Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.~John F. Kennedy
One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others. ~Niccolo Machiavelli
The essential role of local councils in Australia is undisputable with each taking on a high level of service delivery on a local level.
Yet, every local council is facing the challenges of maintaining this level of service while dealing with increasing challenges of an ageing workforce, recruitment competition and outdated processes.
To combat these challenges the National Workforce Strategy 2013-2020 was formulated.
Prepared and launched in 2013 by the Local Government Professionals Australia and the Australian Centre for Excellence for Local Government, eight key actions were identified:
- Improving workforce planning and development
- Promoting local government as place-based employer of choice
- Retaining and attracting a diverse workforce
- Creating a contemporary workplace
- Investing in skills
- Improving productivity and leveraging technology
- Maximising management and leadership
- Implementation and collaboration
Yet, in itself the eight key actions outlined in the strategy will result in a lot of change for local councils.
This is especially so for action six “Improving productivity and leveraging technology” where the implementation of technology in any organisation can often set fear into the hearts of even the most rational.
All for the simple fact that it is new.
Yet, implementing technology such as HRIS (Human Resource Information System) Technology – which will act as prime source for employee information with real time data and live costing information – will actually enhance a Council’s capabilities of meeting the other seven action points listed above.
But before a council can achieve this through HRIS technology – they need to:
- be receptive to change; and
- be confident in implementing change
To assist local government organisations, we have prepared this guide on how to manage the change management process when implementing new technology.
Identifying Barriers and Implementing Solutions
With any change management projects the first step is identify any barriers.
Barriers that will impact your ability to deliver upon project objectives.
Once barriers are identified, solutions can be created and change management successfully implemented.
Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the man who is as well organized in his individuality as the mass itself. ~Carl Jung
Barrier: A lack of process
Many organisations run into issues because they lacked a formal process for change management projects of introducing new technology.
It seems obvious but it’s true.
Solution: Put a structured plan in place
Any project that does not have a well-considered plan in place will have a higher chance of failure.
Here are three aspects of a good change management plan:
- Use a proven structured methodology: Create a structured plan that outlines all aspects of the upcoming change management process including all tasks, job responsibilities, key milestones, training requirements and communication needs.
- Customise plans: One size does NOT fit all – when constructing your plan you need to customise it to suit the workplace demographics, the culture of the specific workplace and the change to be implemented.
- Communicate the plan: Make sure all key stakeholders responsible for implementing the change management project are familiar and comfortable with the plan.
The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. ~Nathaniel Branden
Barrier: Ignoring the Human Factor
While a plan is a must have, it must not overshadow people. The people who will be asked to both accept and work with the upcoming new systems.
They will have needs and fears that need to be addressed.
If employees do not feel considered, communicated with or consulted, frustration will reign, morale will plummet and the success of introducing new systems will be in danger.
Solution: Consider. Communicate. Consult.
To increase the successful adoption of new technology, keep the lines of communications with all employees open and transparent. Here’s how:
- Consider the people: Nobody likes an unexpected surprise at work. Communicate the upcoming changes, key benefits, expected disruptions and schedule. Do it EARLY in the process.
- Open communication channels: Provide opportunities for staff to give feedback on the new technology. This will be beneficial in both identifying areas of resistance, training needs and any system bugs.
- Continued consultation: Through continued consultation and reinforcement of the system after initial integration, you will ensure that change sticks and people do not revert back to old processes
We cannot change anything until we accept it. ~Carl Jung
Barrier: Workplace demographics and culture
Get to know the demographics and characteristics of the company employees.
In the Profile of the Australian Local Government Workforce 2015 Report by the Australian Centre for Excellence for Local Government found that the local government workforce is ageing.
With just under 200,000 people working in local government across the country, of this, 37% of employees are aged 50 years or over. This is in comparison to the Australian labour force average of 29%. The highest age group of employees is 35 to 49 at 38.4%
Table 1:ACELG Survey and ABS Census local government workforce
This equates to a high proportion of baby boomers and generation X staff members in local government.
What does this mean for you?
If you refer to table 2, it means a higher resistance to technological change.
|Baby Boomers (1945-1964)||Generation X (1964-1980)||Millennial (1980-2000)|
|Face to face communications or call||e-mail or IM||Just text me|
|Loyal to job||Work to live||Play then work|
|Print me a copy||Send me a copy||I’ll Google it myself|
|Respect my title||Respect my ideas||Respect my skills|
|Focus on process||Focus on results||Focus on involvement|
|Don’t like change||Can adapt well to change||Focus on change using technology|
Table 2: Generational Characteristics
Solution: Training and leadership support
Successful implementation of a system can only occur when each individual impacted goes through their own personal transition.
Through strong communication, training sessions and continued consultation, individuals will feel more supported in accepting the process of change.
Managers will play a key role in this process.
So make sure each leader within the organisation has embraced the change and is equipped to support their own staff through the transition.
Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts. ~Arnold Bennett
Barrier: Change is disruptive
Successful change depends on shaking up the status quo. For this fact alone people will be resistant from the start.
It’s a natural human reaction.
You won’t be able to stop it you just need to accept it so you can manage it from the start.
Solution: Resistance Management
Be prepared for the resistance.
Employees will need to be convinced that the upcoming disruption to their processes will be worth their time.
It will be a process of identifying early:
- which areas will be impacted most
- where resistance will occur
- what objections will be raised (for example with technology security of personal information is always a main concern)
Once these issues have been identified you can implement measures and key messages to minimise any negative impacts.
With the key messages you need to sell the benefits of the system – that the technology will actually improve processes, generate better results and make life easier.
Once again it will come down to communication and leadership support.
Barrier: Ineffective suppliers
External support is also just as essential as internal support.
If a supplier doesn’t attempt to understand your business, processes or have the right experience or resources it will impact your ability to deliver.
Solution: Research your suppliers
Research your supplier. Make sure they have:
- implemented similar projects in local government (this way they understand your industry!)
- documentation to support implementation processes
- solid advice and processes (you don’t need to reinvent the wheel!)
- the staff that will collaborate well with you throughout the process (you need to have a good working relationship with not just the sales team but the implementation team)
If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. – Isaac Newton
- Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, “Profile of the local Government Workforce 2015 Report”, February 2015
- Australian Centre for Excellence for Local Government and Local Government Managers Australia, “Future proofing local government: National workforce strategy 2013-2020”, April 2013
- Prosci, ‘Organisational change management planning checklist’ <https://www.prosci.com/change-management/thought-leadership-library/change-management-planning-checklist> accessed Thursday 5 May 2016
- Management Issues.At the heart of the changing workplace < http://www.management-issues.com/> accessed Thursday 5 May 2016
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