Shelley Lavery, COO and Co-Founder of Jiminny shares her top 5 mistakes to avoid when rolling out a new platform.
Over the last 18 years, I’ve rolled out many new sales tools and initiatives. Some I’ve delivered on my own, some I’ve delivered with sales ops and marketing. All of them taught me something new about how to manage change effectively.
Those that sell us the latest technology like to tell us “onboarding is easy.” But onboarding isn’t the goal when rolling out a new platform. The goal is great adoption and value from the tool, and I’ve never found that easy. So, here are my tips for getting great adoption, wrapped up in my top five mistakes.
Fail #1: Forgetting that change is harder for some than others
As creatures of habit, change doesn’t always come easy and we’re often met with resistance.
Pretending it doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. It’s human behavior. I was once part of the launch of a new internal comms tool where just a few whispers about it caused a revolt. Try these tips to help ease people into the change of a new platform:
Avoid big surprises
Warm people up to the new program before onboarding begins. Let your team know what’s coming. Explain why the change is important and include a clear explanation of the benefits.
Overcome the objections
Use your champions to understand people’s main concerns and overcome those objections in your communications. We’re dealing with sales people after all!
Build pre-launch engagement
Try to create interest in ‘what’s coming’ before roll out. Some of the best launches I’ve experienced engaged the broader team before onboarding began. Perhaps you can include people in the branding of the new platform, gather their input on how they’d like it rolled out or build excitement with a competition. A sprinkle of creativity can go a long way in getting things off on the right foot.
Fail #2: Forgetting the basics
I’ve definitely made the mistake of spending 90% of my energy on the selection of a new platform and 10% on the roll out. Now, I apply equal effort to both and the roll out starts with getting the basics right, such as:
Timing your onboarding training well
Not at the end of the month, not when they’re too hungry, not when they’re too full and not too close to another systems roll out. Training should be two hours max, before attention drifts. And it should be scheduled in advance to avoid excuses like, ‘I’ve got a sales pitch at that time.’
Small groups for big impact
The smaller the training group, the better. I’d keep it to a maximum of five each. It’s easier to judge the needs of the group, people are inclined to ask questions in a more intimate setting and it’s easier to assess engagement levels.
Avoid people switching off by making the session as interactive as possible. Try to involve these elements into each training session:
1. Break training into bite size segments with a mini quiz at the end of each.
2. Make training practical and have people ‘doing,’ not just ‘listening.’
3. Build conversations into the training rather than lectures.
Fail #3: Training too much at one time
It’s so tempting to get the whole team in a room for two hours and blitz through all the features or functions of the new platform to tick the training box. The box might be ticked, but in reality very little information will be retained. I’ve made this mistake. The price you pay is thousands of follow up questions and general misunderstanding. Now, before rolling out any new platform, I like to think about it in three stages.
1. Create the habit
2. Build the knowledge
3. Become a pro
The first and most critical stage is not about transferring as much information as possible. It’s about incorporating the new technology into the team’s work day. What’s the minimum viable roll out to make that happen? Train that first. Form the habit and then build on the knowledge.
Fail #4: No place to go for help post on-boarding
Two things happen when we train something new:
1. 100% of participants remember less than 50% of the training.
2. The training has gaps that can only be filled when more people are using the new tool in real life scenarios.
So there has be plan for channelling feedback and answering questions. I’ve done this the wrong way and experienced the instant screams of ‘I’ve got issues’ coming from all angles. Not to mention the ‘feedback black hole’ where three months later someone says, “Are we still using that? I didn’t think it worked.”
Here are three tips:
1: On the first day post roll out, have experts on the new application available on the ‘shop floor’ with the team to combat issues in the moment and reinforce training.
2: Have a channel, such as Slack, to facilitate real time questions and feedback.
3: Enlist visible, proactive champions to support the team in the early days.
Fail #5: I forgot about the newbies
The best planned training happens during the launch of something new. Then you find yourself chatting to a newish member of the team and realise they’ve got no idea how to use your shiniest new tool. That’s when it dawns on you that no one’s accountable for training the newbies! You need an owner to make sure:
1. Training material is up to date in your onboarding plan.
2. They’ve received a good demonstration.
3. They’re part of the appropriate feedback channels.
I hope there are some nuggets here that will be beneficial in rolling out your next platform. Good luck!