Change is hard and many of us hate it. It doesn’t matter what the change is, we hate when things we are comfortable with change on us and naturally we fight it. However, if we have fair warning, or if it is something that we want to change we accept it. For some of us it is harder to adopt change than others, but there is a way to help get buy-off when a change is taking place. In the multifamily industry there has been a common thought of “If it works, why change it?” and this has plagued the industry and caused it to fall behind on the use of technology. As we start to see more change occur in the industry, the people that you need to adopt the change are those that are working in the trenches. If you want to be truly successful using a new technology you need to have the property staff buy-off on the change.
Although nothing is perfect I have found that following ideas can lead you to have a great deal of success in getting change management to occur.
1. Ask the opinion of your staff. Many times decisions are being made at an ownership or corporate level, but this can cause a disconnect between the properties and the corporate leadership. When you ask your staff what they think would improve workflow or improve their job it can pay dividends when it is time to implement a new process or technology. When your staff feel like what they have to say has value they will be more willing to make the required changes that are being mandated. If you want to be successful with a new technology you need to get buy-off from the end user.
2. Create a Plan. I learned a long time ago if you want to be successful at anything you need to create a plan. Whether your end goal is to complete a marathon or to have your property adopt online leasing, you will need to get a plan in place to be successful. Take the time here to think of everything. You don’t want to rush a plan out that doesn’t cover all of the angles and possible hiccups. The more time you spend on the plan the better outcome you will have.
3. Corporate Sponsorship. If you want change to take place, it has to be mandated and sold by everyone involved. If you have an executive who is involved and checking in on a project it will carry more weight with the site employees and therefore you will have better adoption. Having an executive sponsor that is checking in can really help allow the change to take final affect.
4. Train, Train, Train. If you want your team to really buy-off on changing a process make sure they understand the new way to do it. The best way to get this to happen is to make sure that they understand how to use the new technology. If they are truly trained, they will be more willing to take a chance on the new tech and you will find that when they have a positive experience they will share that with others. The more positive experiences your team has the more they will accept the change.
5. Follow Up Often. This is often one of the steps that gets neglected when it comes to affecting change. This can be a tricky one to handle, but if you are following up often it will allow for you to remind the employees the importance of this change. Be patient with your staff and allow them some time to fully make the change, but following up often will make sure that they are working on the change. The follow up period could be anywhere from a few weeks to several months. I would recommend at least weekly follow ups for the first few months. After you feel like most people have caught on and made the change follow up less often, but make sure that they are using it and having positive experiences.
6. Reward and Incentivize. The last thing that I believe can really affect change is to reward those that do make the change that you are requesting. Setup an incentive plan and share that plan with everyone. If they have something that they will receive if they do something, you will get better adoption. This can be a bonus, gift cards, lunch, movie passes , etc. Make it fun and you will get better adoption.
Change management is not easy and it requires a lot of work. If you use the suggested ideas above you will find that you will have more success and less stress in the long run. Get to work and get those changes made and improve the processes at your company.