How to Get Your Team to Use your Project Management Tool
So you’ve taken the plunge and invested in a new project management tool. Congratulations! Unfortunately, none of your staff are thrilled about the change. They each have their own system, and are hanging on to them the way a baby clings to its bottle! Until they embrace the change, your expensive project management tool is just going to sit there, empty and useless.
Every organization is going to encounter resistance to change, but that’s no excuse for you to leave things as is and let people’s mule-headed behavior hamstring the business. You need to keep a firm hand and, if possible, turn them into advocates of the new system. Below are some helpful hints to do just that:
One of the main reasons people dislike new systems is the learning curve involved. It’s intimidating to learn a new program from scratch. Set up frequent training sessions prior to the official roll-out so you can give people a chance to adjust. Tweak the subject matter/training schedule for the persons being trained: the less tech savvy a person is, the more classes he needs to take, and vice versa. If possible, get the students to train each other—it’ll also act as a good team building exercise.
Give Your Team Perspective
Sometimes it helps to know why you’re doing something, instead of just following orders. Set some context for the situation by explaining the difficulties of the old system and how the new one will improve things. Show them how they can benefit from the new features and how it will improve their efficiency, increase the accuracy of reports, and decrease their stress. Likewise, show them the consequences of improper data entry and misuse. Let them know that the project management tool’s effectiveness depends entirely on how they choose to use it.
Once you’ve set procedures for proper use of the project management tool, you have to enforce them ruthlessly. The project management tool is only as good as the information you put in it, and so you have to regularly check the database’s integrity and make individual users responsible for the changes they make. If someone consistently mistypes his data or uses unauthorized shortcuts, you have to reprimand him and make sure he corrects his behavior.
Some employees will want to go back to the comfort of their old system—whether that is an old software program or some other manual method. If you can, you should take those options away as soon as the new system goes live. Delete the old project management tool from your network (or at least remove access) and discourage use of the old system.
Recruit Allies from Within
If team members are resisting the change because it’s being “imposed” by management, then sidestep the problem. Recruit the more open-minded employees and ask them to help convince their team members. The difficult employees might be more receptive to their peers.
Image credit, Flickr, Aya Otake
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.