Supporting technical change or challenges during a crisis

For many of us, our jobs have had to make a dramatic shift of focus in the last 2 weeks alone.
And I am not talking about having to suddenly work from home. What I am referring to is a shift of current priorities.
As an example, I am working with multiple organisations who were patiently moving through a phased Microsoft Teams enablement which pivoted to an urgent big-bang go-live 1-2 weeks ago.

We are also moving from a strategic to a more tactical focus. I have certainly reduced my work in longer term roadmap and strategy, along with designing cultural change programs, to what can we achieve right now to support the urgent priorities of our clients.

To most of you, the term ‘change fatigue’ is a familiar concept. We are well aware, in the area of Microsoft 365 alone, people are trying to become comfortable with an everchanging ecosystem that has gradual enhancements and new features ongoing. This can bring with it the risk of change fatigue in your end-users. A term a client used last year that really resonated with me was ‘change whiplash’. I feel right now with this crisis many organisations are experiencing major change whiplash and need to really focus on the daily and weekly needs of their staff to support them in this complex time.

This is not a long and complex blog. What I wanted to capture was some thoughts and a reminder to ensure you are not caught up in any bubble but do pause and think of the experience of the staff in your organisation during this time.

Here are some thoughts to consider right now in your organisation.

  • Remember what makes sense to you can be new to others.
    It’s your field or area of expertise. Or you may have just been using some technology in a specific way that others are suddenly catching up on. And that’s ok. Just because working from home is second nature to us in technology, to others it is so unfamiliar. That doesn’t make them inferior. Give people time to adapt.
  • We are all in a state of heightened anxiety.
    Tread carefully. People are worried about very different things. I think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and that for some people, the concern at the forefront for them is being able to have money right now to feed their family. People are stressed about basic needs being met. They are worried about getting sick, or the health of their children, elderly parents or relatives. We are constantly in ‘fight or flight’ and it is impacting us every day. So be cautious in the workplace and understand this crisis is flowing through every aspect of our day.
  • All roles in the workplace are important.
    Don’t assume anyone is less capable or stupid because they don’t know something. Don’t be ‘that guy’ (or girl). Don’t treat someone who answers the phone or does admin with less respect. Or if they are confused over tech and how to access things from home take a breath and treat every single person with the respect they deserve.
  • We learn at different paces and from different styles.
    You cannot roll out Microsoft Teams urgently, offer a 1-hour single training sessions and think it’s done. Firstly, only a percentage of training will have been absorbed. And secondly, much more learning is done on the job. When people are at their computer and trying features each day this is where the learning is embedded. Have ongoing support and drip feed learning bites to allow gradual change.
  • Kindness and patience
    Each day ensure you give space for people to try to adapt to the current crisis and how their role has been impacted. Listen. Support. As I mentioned, don’t be quick to judge and think someone is less deserving of your time because they don’t get an app or make mistakes. It will be so tough to use new technology and learn in fight or flight. Have patience.
  • People are already existing in a world of ongoing change and now, to some, their world has been turned upside down.
    How do you respond when your space and way of working is impacted in ways outside of your control?
    Imagine if suddenly you could only work sitting at a desk with just a laptop. No other monitors, no dock, no fancy tech setup like you no doubt have right now. You would be uncomfortable, frustrated and need time to get used to it. Many have gone from a great workplace setup to their dining table with perhaps a toddler constantly around. Cut them some slack.

Those are my thoughts. I am always big on leading with kindness and not making assumptions or judgement.

Times are tough.

For all of us in the tech space, we have the power to help. Reduce stress in your workplace by helping others move through this shift.

Offer your time in the community – many sectors are reacting and trying to pivot. Lend a hand where you can.

And take care of yourself.

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