Four ways to help your team embrace new technology

25/01/24

‘Better the devil you know’ is a phrase that many people subscribe to. It’s also one that stifles innovation and experimentation. The Change Perception Index by psychologist Jim Bright found that:

  • 34% of people would avoid change if they could
  • 32.2% of people are inclined to give up on something if they don’t see immediate results
  • 21% report that they fear failure when they try something new

Bearing in mind those statistics represent a more general population sample and factoring in the legal profession is renowned for being particularly conservative, changing anything in your law firm is likely to be met with resistance.

That’s not ideal when you want to introduce technology as figures show that a third or more of your team are going to resist, protest or refuse new software.

To help a wary team to embrace change and adopt new technology:

  1. Choose technology that solves your team’s problems
  2. Involve your team in the choice of new technology
  3. Train your team thoroughly with the new software
  4. Phase in the new system

 

1. Choose technology that solves your team’s problems

Resistance to new systems often takes the form of ‘What’s in it for me?’ (WIIFM). From your team’s point of view, the system they already use might be perceived as just fine — ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. They may see a new system as a solution to a problem that doesn’t actually exist. Change for the sake of change is not welcome when people are comfortable with the status quo.

So, rather than choosing technology and telling your team that it’s needed, start with your team’s challenges and look at solutions that address them (the WIIFM). You probably have at least one partner who’s an excellent salesperson — speak to your team, discover their pain points and help them discover an appetite for change by switching to technology that’ll streamline and simplify their daily work.

 

2. Involve your team in the choice of new technology

Once your team are on board with the idea of change, you can consider specific legal software that offers the necessary change. Rather than making the choice and then announcing the new system to the firm, it’s more productive to seek people’s opinions during the project. Your team will buy in if they have a say in the tools they’ll use. Otherwise, there’s a risk they don’t see the chosen solution as the best one and feel ignored or overlooked.

For the sake of efficiency, it would be a good idea to present a (quite short) shortlist of two or three pieces of software rather than consulting the team on the whole process. Then, you can invite whoever wishes to look at the website of the potential software, take a demo, and give their thoughts as to the strengths and weaknesses of each. Not everyone will get the choice they want, but a transparent and even democratic process will mean a lot more goodwill, and whatever choice you make the team will appreciate having been genuinely consulted.

 

3. Train your team thoroughly with the new software

A one-off training session is almost certainly not enough to familiarise your team with a piece of technology, however intuitive it is. People will be used to working a certain way, and lasting change takes more than a simple tour of a system.

Training can and should be ongoing. You should also, as far as possible, be sensitive to the learning styles of your team. The broad styles are ‘auditory, visual and kinaesthetic’, which is to say people who learn best by listening, watching or doing. Few individuals are exclusively one or the other, and there’s no need to excessively tailor your training, but it helps to teach people in a way that makes them comfortable.

You could also consider ‘sandboxing’ the programs you use. It’s especially useful for people who like to learn by doing, but anyone can benefit from an opportunity to use a dummy version of the program to get comfortable with it. They’ll be free from the fear of messing up the firm’s system or data by doing something wrong, and be more willing to discover and experiment, thus aiding the learning process.

 

4. Phase in the new system

Finally, if you can introduce your new system gradually, it can help any hesitant users adopt the technology more smoothly and willingly. If you give a timeline of when things will change, and how they’ll be different, your team can ready themselves, ask and learn what they need to know, and acquaint themselves steadily as the different phases of change take place.

It won’t always be possible to phase in your software, but you can still give your team a good period of notice so there’s no panic and no surprises. Spend that the notice period time in open dialogue, inviting questions, comments, doubts and concerns, and addressing them collaboratively and sympathetically.

 

How to set your tech up for success

Legal tech fails when some see it as a solution, but others see it as a problem.

To find legal software that everyone is supportive of, you need to choose programs that answer your colleagues’ frustrations and show (rather than tell) how it’ll make their working lives easier.

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