This is the converse to my last post, and presents a very different scenario. To be fair, not all your employees will be this way, but let’s just say it’s the majority. While the definition of “tech-savvy” is pretty subjective, for this post, assume this group is generally on par or better than IT. One would assume IT personnel will be tech-savvy by definition, but that could be a highly relative assumption if they are truly old school. They will be savvy in a different way than employees, especially those rooted firmly in the Internet world.
I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea – comparing these two groups on this basis can be pretty challenging. However, just as your workplace won’t be totally full of tech laggards, it won’t likely be totally full of tech whiz-kids either. The latter may be true if you’re a startup, but that’s not really our audience here.
For this post, I’m focusing on cases where your employees are generally pretty tech-savvy, and you don’t have the basic concerns as if they were generally at the other end of the spectrum. This might warrant the do-nothing approach I’ve been writing about here recently. In other words, you have enough trust to say as little as possible about UC, and let them discover it on their accord. IT may not get any of the glory if they have success with UC, but if this is the best way to drive adoption, so be it.
Can you trust them?
Trust really is at the core of this strategy, since it assumes you know them well enough to believe they’ll get it, and that it’s important to them that you respect them this way. I’m saying “them” a lot here because that’s the main message here. When dealing with tech savvy employees, you need to keep a safe distance, so to speak. Before IP, the shoe was on the other foot, and IT could get away with talking down to employees. Depending on your company’s history, there may be an adversarial culture that needs to be overcome.
If that’s the case, UC could be a great opportunity to forge a more balanced relationship with employees. As often noted on this blog, more than other new technologies, UC needs end user adoption for success, so you have a valid motive for doing so. After all, if a tech-savvy employee base can’t figure out the charms of UC, nobody will. How often do you get an opportunity to engage with employees on a peer-to-peer level with what is ultimately a common cause?
These end users are well-equipped to get the most out of UC, and that will please both them and management – presuming the benefits go beyond everyday personal productivity. IT, on the other hand, gains more favor with management by showing to have bet right in going with UC. This will be especially important for IT if management was skeptical of UC in the first place, and perhaps even second-guessing IT’s overall value to the business. After all, IT can only keep doing “more with less” for so long.
Knowing when to shift gears
The big challenge for IT is knowing when to shift gears from doing nothing to doing something with these end users. Taking a hands-off approach is fine if they take UC where you want it to go, but if they don’t, this strategy could backfire. If management loses patience, it will be easy to lay the blame with IT simply because you were hands-off, which to them looks like you didn’t have a plan in the first place.
How do you know if, when or how to shift gears? These are the big questions here, and to respond effectively, you need to consider all the dynamics I’ve been touching on. You need to honestly assess IT’s relationship with employees – both those who are tech savvy and otherwise. UC is meant for everyone, and your job isn’t done once the former group gets going with it, even with minimal support from IT.
In fact, that’s just the first step in the UC journey, at least if IT wishes to further cultivate a new-and-improved relationship with your tech savvy employees. Of course, you can choose to treat all employees the same, throw UC out there, and see what happens.
My research tells me there are a few good reasons what that’s not the best approach, especially if you consider that those tech savvy Millennials will soon be the majority, not to mention the up-and-comers gunning for your job. If that’s on your mind, I’ll see you back here week when the analysis continues.