But what happens when circumstances take over and require you to change on a dime?
When COVID-19 hit, it opened the throttle on our company’s carefully planned transition to Microsoft Teams. Within weeks, our workforce of 250+ employees embraced the new tool and the impacts started rolling in:
100% of employees transitioned to the new collaborative workspace for communications, virtual meetings, and knowledge sharing
95% of surveyed employees report that the platform has increased their connection with their team
86% of employees say they have the technologies to do their job well – a 15% increase since MS Teams was launched
300+ hours of recorded meetings and trainings for employees to access as their individual circumstances allow
100% employees say they value the tool for their day-to-day project work
Orchestrated serendipity and casual collisions in our 100% virtual environment
With internal change (the transition) layered upon external change (the pandemic), we knew we needed a thoughtful change management approach for MS Teams that would avert employee confusion and fatigue.
A flurry of activities launched our shift in implementation. Our strong strategy, however, didn’t falter. Rather, it became even more important to guide the fundamental elements of our technology adoption plan.
Rather than say “transition or else,” we offered content and experiences exclusive to the MS Teams tool to invite people along. For example, our CEO held a firm-wide meeting early in the pandemic that was hosted through MS Teams. This meeting had 94 percent attendance—one of the company’s best-attended ever.
Critically, we aligned to and leveraged Eagle Hill’s collaborative, big-family culture to engage employees and drive adoption. We implemented MS Teams’ “Hallway Channel” to virtually replicate Eagle Hill’s open workspace and allow users to “bump into” each other.
These early tactics fueled a quick tipping point. Seeing their peers adopt the program became the most persuasive way to help other employees follow suit.
Our strategy established a virtual team of super users from across the organization. This approach forged collaboration across internal functional teams—IT, HR, Marketing— to ensure the implementation best served employee needs and starting points.
As important as it was to work in partnership with internal functional teams, drawing in end users gave us insight that allowed us to meet most people where they were. Had our IT team remained within its own bubble of expertise, we would not have anticipated all the ways in which MS Teams could benefit Eagle Hill. Seeing the way different groups innovated allowed Eagle Hill to share knowledge and bring along users who were having a harder time adopting the change.
Undertaking the transition during a pandemic meant we were engaging in a competition for employees’ attention. We knew any MS Teams-related communications needed to cut through all the noise. So, we got our marketing professionals involved to brand and communicate our change efforts.
They created a logo and a template for unifying the look of all MS Teams communications. They ensured communications came from leaders and key communicators (in other words, people from whom emails always get opened) and engaged employees in light-hearted competition to encourage adoption in ways that felt fun.
When people feel overwhelmed, they tune out. Starting with the components that are likely to win people over can get your organization through later technology adoption points that might be more painful. In Eagle Hill’s case, we understood the unique aspects of our different stakeholder groups and began with the features our people would find most beneficial in fostering collaborative workspaces.
MS Teams has a lot of features. To prevent users from getting overwhelmed, we started with the features that would provide immediate improvement over the status quo (such as co-authoring and recording capabilities) and paired them with friendly learning approaches to support employees’ journeys. Only with these basics in hand did we expand training into the tool’s more expansive abilities.
As the rollout progressed, we kept a close eye on how our employees were adopting and using MS Teams by conducting pulse surveys, holding office hours, and monitoring usage data. These metrics allowed us to adjust our engagement tactics to meet employees’ needs as they evolved.
Eagle Hill believes in helping people have ownership over their experience, so we offered flexible options to encourage their participation. One week after shutting down our offices, we conducted our first organization-wide training. From that moment on, we provided a wealth of ways to get on board. We held trainings in a variety of formats, made our experts available through “office hours,” and established a support community for our MS Teams administrators and super users. We demonstrated new features to these two groups and encouraged them to share their best practices and solutions throughout the organization.
While we continue to push the boundaries of how we use Microsoft Teams, our rate of adoption has been amazing, as are the ways it has changed how we get work done. Fortunately for us, Eagle Hill has quite a lot of experience managing change successfully; it’s how we built our business. But perhaps even more important in this case was our mindset. We don’t fear change and we love learning. Together, these qualities helped us roll out a new system when the circumstances called for speed and agility.
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