10 Top Tips for Getting Your Change Management Right by Tracy van der Schyff

The biggest expense a company can have is unhappy employees. When people are miserable, they make other people miserable, and they do less work. Unhappy people are not innovative. They’re not creative. And they don’t come up with cool ideas of how to make things better – and this is where change management comes in, says Tracy van der Schyff in her recent Valo Fest presentation.

Which is why she says investing in training employees is money well spent. Because when you give people the right tools to do their job, and when employees know what is expected from them and have guidelines as well as having freedom and transparency, it makes them happy.

The ROI of doing things right from the start long before you get to the technology is happy people. Happy people stay in companies. Happy people fix a lot of things. So, don’t forget the importance of your employees’ happiness.

Here she shares her top tips on how to introduce new technology within your company by managing change effectively.

Tip 1: Remember, more experienced workers take longer to change

When we talk about change management, let’s start with an interesting one. Having spent years as a trainer, I’ve experienced that older people do struggle with learning.

Someone that’s brand new to Windows, SharePoint or Teams will adopt it faster than an older colleague. But it’s not necessarily an age thing. It’s about time already spent with technology.

It’s about the experience they have with the software or the technology. So, anyone that’s worked with more versions of Microsoft tech will struggle to adopt a new version.

Remember every time we add a new version, it’s difficult for these colleagues to unlearn what they already know. Our brains build these neurological paths to ways of doing things, so if the UI changes, it causes “conflict” with how you’re used to do something.

Tip 2: Adopt a new approach to IT support

Then the second thing that I want to remind you of, is when it comes to change management, we have to change the way that we do IT support.

For years, IT broke people down psychologically, without even realizing it saying, “Why did you do that? Why did you click there? You’re not supposed to do that”

I’m not blaming IT. I was IT. I was there. But we did it because we worked on the basis of “find the problem, fix the problem”. We never fixed people or helped them to fix their own problems.

The era we live in today is about fixing people not fixing problems. We have to teach people to fish. We’ve got to stop feeding them.

So, when a colleague phones and tells you that someone’s deleted their Excel and you laugh because you know they just deleted a shortcut, tell them “Hey, just press the Windows button on your keyboard and search for Excel. Stop using shortcuts because it’s slowing you down.”

Put your trainers into first-line IT support roles. That’s how I train my trainers. Because the person who answers the phone needs to have empathy and needs to help your employee fix their own problems.

Tip 3: Move from waterfall to agile approach to IT

You’ve got to change from a waterfall to an agile approach to IT.

Stop following the methodology of asking questions, writing documents, having meetings, testing, and then rolling things out. It’s never going to work like that again. Tech is moving so fast you have to make changes on the fly.

Also realize that you have to allow time for failures. We’re all going to fail more, but we’re going to fail faster, and we’re going to achieve faster results too.

If you’re still following the methods that we’ve done for years, like the whole test case etc., you’re not going to achieve a lot in the new modern agile technologies world.

Tip 4: Be transparent about what you’re doing

People need to know and understand more. You can’t keep them in the dark like you did before.

Remember IT, business and end users are in a relationship. This this is a marriage. If you don’t have transparency and honesty between those partners, you’ll never have buy-in and co ownership ever.

For years, we’ve been fighting a war against each other because we’ve never been honest with each other. And that needs to change.

The problem is technology has changed and we haven’t. So, we have to share our failures and successes, and share the roadmap, vision, and the why. That’s how you’re going to get ownership and people to take responsibility.

Tip 5: Review your roadmaps regularly

It’s very important to document your roadmaps. But, also to review them regularly too.

Plus, you’re going to have to tell your users “this is the decision that we’re making today, but we don’t know what this roadmap is going to look like in three months because technology is advancing and changing every day”.

Be honest. Be transparent. Keep communicating and keep on moving. Don’t stick to a mistake or a decision just because you’ve made it already or you’ve spent enough money and time to make it.

You cannot stick to the decisions you made three months ago if the technology has changed. So, you’re going to have to review your roadmap on a regular basis, and keep your users up to date with your thinking.

Remember to review your roadmap regularly and share it with your users. Don’t write that 40 or 50-page horrible document, because no one will read it. Instead, consider creating SharePoint pages that can be shared.

Tip 6: Adopt the mindset of continuous improvement

change management
Digital Literacy Skills with Microsoft Office 365 by Tracy van der Schyff.

The done and dusted approach doesn’t work. It’s all about continuous improvement and small cycles of ‘plan, do, check, act’ on a daily basis.

You have to shorten your review cycles. I used to keep it to three months. And I’m now suggesting to companies that they should do monthly reviews of the decisions they’ve made regarding technology.

If you don’t do it, then you’ll quickly become out of date.

Tip 7: If you want to change, you must do something different

Whatever we did in the past failed. So, if you want different results you have to do things differently.

In the past, when it came to training, we said, “Hi everyone, we’ve launched Teams. Here’s a little place where you can find training material, when you have time to look at it. We’re going to do some non-compulsory training sessions. So, feel free to join in”.

And guess what? Nobody joined.

We’ve never made training compulsory because we thought we wanted to leave it up to people to make their own decisions.  But you know what happens when you do that, nobody does training. We only know what we know, and normally we think we don’t need training until it’s too late.

Tip 8: Make training compulsory, even for management

If your company says that your strategic objectives are to evolve, become agile, become a leader in the market, to be a thought leader, then your employees need to be learning every day.

If you don’t make evolving training compulsory, and include it as part of an employee’s KPIs and their daily duties, they will not make time for it. They will not learn because they are busy.

So that’s a challenge.

When you push out new technology people are too busy to learn how to use it. So change and training should always start with the management.

I always force them to be trained first. And when they tell me they don’t have time, I say, “If you don’t have time, your employees are not going to have time either. Because they are also super busy. So, you have to lead by example”.

Tip 9: Allocate 5% of the time to daily training

Let’s talk about how to stay up to date.

Training needs to be present in your employees’ job descriptions. It needs to be promoted, measured and built into their KPIs.

No one has time to sit in a four-day training session anymore. But if you take five minutes a day, for five days a week, that’s the equivalent of four days a year.

So, imagine if we can change a culture by saying, “We don’t do that classroom thing. We take in small changes. Our employees are expected to take five minutes from their eight hours and try out a new feature or watch a new bite-sized video every day”.

When people can keep on learning and learning every day your evolution is much easier.

Tip 10: Products don’t fix problems, people do!

Don’t ever forget that people fix problems with products. Products don’t fix problems on their own. You can’t just buy some technology and expect your problems to be solved.

If you don’t invest in people and train them on how to use those products which can help them do amazing things, then you won’t achieve anything.

Tracy was a guest speaker at our Valo Fest 2020 event so if you’d like to hear this in a video form and redeem access to a huge amount of other educational content on diversity at work, Microsoft Teams, overcoming business continuity challenges and numerous real-life Case Studies, get access here.


Our Valo Partner Network is the best of the best when it comes to change management and implementing new Microsoft 365 solutions. So remember, we are here to help via email, phone or give you a live demo straight away. Just ask!


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