A consent discussion is a powerful tool to address a resistance to digital change that your team may experience. Consent aims at resolving objections, rather than seeking compromised agreement. Clearing a path forward for everyone to follow.
Picture this scenario.
You decided to adopt a new digital strategy in your business. The competition is doing it already. Your customers expect it. So, it’s time to go ahead. Then you hit the brick wall. Your employees are not so keen on yet another change. You face resistance in the digital adoption of the tool from your team.
Maybe it’s a live chat agent or some other interactive tool on the website. Alternatively, it’s something that improves the operations of your back-end systems. Maybe it’s something that you use to communicate with partners. Regardless, it is likely something that does need the buy-in and adoption of your team for the rollout to be successful.
There are a lot of reasons why employees resist adopting new technology. They might have experienced a lot of change recently and they are wary of yet another. Maybe keeping things, the way is a comfortable zone. Possibly they are even close to burnout with the previous inefficiencies. This one thing is a bridge too far.
Maybe it’s just that the hard thing about change is it can be hard.
Yet, you know that the change is key to the vision of where the business is going. It’s going to happen. Though you also know that you need to get employees to adopt it for it to be successful.
Hold a consent discussion with your team in the early stages.
One way to address issues with employee resistance to digital change is to hold a workshop that is a consent discussion.
A consent discussion aims at removing obstacles, rather than gaining agreement.
Something that can be more powerful than a compromised agreement. While a lot of people think compromise is good in a relationship, it can also be lose-lose. Where each party thinks they gave up something important to reach a compromise.
People may not fully agree with what is going to happen. Still, they are likely to consent to moving forward if reservations are addressed.
Consider using an outside facilitator.
Something to consider is having an impartial third party run the session as a facilitator.
It’s possible that you are too close to the situation to facilitate it. You might want to participate. A good facilitator will facilitate discussion happening while not participating.
As a leader who wants the change, you might discourage open discussion with your team. Not a negative statement on your leadership. It’s just how things play out. Stepping back and letting someone else run the discussion can lead to a better round table discussion. While preserving your leadership stance on wanting the change.
Present the drivers and the proposed change.
Begin the consent discussion by presenting the drivers behind the change. Then follow this with explaining the proposed changes. You can be the presenter, or have the facilitator do it, or even a change champion on the team.
The purpose in presenting it is to have the team fully understand the situation. Drivers are what is behind the need to change. It can be a problem or a desired vision.
As examples, a few common concerns were mentioned in the beginning of this post. A need to be competitive in the market. Customers might want the change. It might make work more efficient.
Present the proposed digital strategy and how you expect this to transform how things work.
Be open to clarifying questions from the team.
In this way the team can fully understand the why behind the change. And your vision for addressing it.
Be flexible in resolving objections.
Next open the floor to hearing objections. Really listen. In fact, everyone present should really listen. Because everyone can participate in suggesting ways to resolve an objection.
There is a difference between objections and a concern. Both need to be heard. It’s Objections have a material impact on the proposition and need resolution to continue. Concerns are to noted and addressed later. Concerns aren’t typically showstoppers, objections are.
As an example, an objection might be that no one on the team has experience with the technology being proposed. Making sure that training is offered to employees may be a resolution. Or even hiring an expert to join the team
It might mean that the objection has an impact on the proposition. As another example, the team might object to the technology decided on because it isn’t a marketable skill to learn. Considering an alternate vendor or product might be a resolution.
Being flexible and making adjustments to the proposal might end up being the thing that helps everyone consent to the change happening more smoothly.
It’s important to end the discussion with a celebration that the team. This will help mark the success of the workshop and reinforce any decisions and conclusions.
Thank everyone for participating and being open to overcoming resistance to digital change. Making celebration a part of the culture enables the team to move forward together.
Note: The consent discussion proposed in this post is inspired by consent decision making, as defined by Sociocracy 3.0.