Change - it’s a word that can almost always elicit groans from even the most steadfast of teams. In the day-to-day of a busy law practice making the change to a new system, like implementing document management software (DMS), can be challenging in the best of circumstances. While you know an upgraded DMS will be incredibly beneficial to your firm in the long run, the change itself can often be a challenge. Employing an excellent change management process will make the transition much easier.
Here are some tips on how to create change in a way that engages your team and positively impacts your workplace!
Map Out a Change Process
Successful change management comes with organization and a strong, clear plan. When you’re mapping out your change process, the most important things to focus on are the areas where your team members are likely to be affected.
For example, in using document management software for the first time, you could have employees who aren’t the most tech savvy and will need more one-on-one support than what you’ll provide in training. Using this knowledge, you could preemptively have a plan to place them with a “buddy” who can help them practice and answer their questions after training is over. Or, you could decide to make certain training groups smaller based on the skillsets you’ve identified in your employees. By identifying these potential pain points, you’ll be able to put measures in place to help your team successfully adapt new system.
Involve Top Leadership
Any change, big or small, within your law firm is greatly benefited by strong leaders who are on board with the new system. While you may have mapped out a clear and comprehensive plan for implementing the new document management software, it’s difficult to move forward if you don’t have leaders or managers who are engaged and willing to help you drive the change throughout the practice.
Enthusiastic leaders can help to promote positive feelings around the new system and help you address any concerns or resistance that could arise. Involving top leadership in your plans can significantly impact your chances of success.
Don’t Sweep Resistance Under the Rug
Leading law firm strategy and practice management specialist, Patrick McKenna, says in his article about change management, “The best leaders in a change process find ways to get the change out there subtly, listen to what the partners’ perspectives are and promote as much discussion as possible.”
He encourages change management leaders to look at resistance as a gift rather than a problem. Why would he say this?
Resistance to the new document management software could possibly point out weaknesses in the plan you’ve established for implementation, which is a really good thing! By addressing those weaknesses and having discussions around the new process, you’ll be further solidifying the plan of action you’ve created and make it even stronger.
Plus, these types of discussions with your team could lead them to feel more involved and comfortable with the change, and help them see the benefits of using document management software in the firm. Regular and open discussions about the new process can also help you directly address team members who have the potential of being more resistant, while getting everyone on the same page.
Address the “Why”
One of our Trumpet team members, Andrea, provided a great anecdote regarding the importance of addressing the “why” of a decision that we like to share when discussing change management with clients.
A daughter and her mother are cooking in the kitchen and the daughter notices that the mom cuts off both ends of the pot roast and throws them away. The daughter questions her mother and asks why she did that - the mom responds “Well, that’s what my mother always did.” So the daughter asks her grandmother why she cut off both ends of the pot roast and the grandmother replies, “that’s what MY mother always did.” Finally, the daughter questions the great grandmother about cutting off both ends of a perfectly good pot roast. The great grandmother replies, “Well, it wouldn’t fit in the roasting pan, so I had to.”
While this is a humorous story, it also does a great job of illustrating the importance of not only asking “why” but addressing it. As discussed previously, employees asking questions about the new process or the new document management software could actually be shining a light on holes in the process or ways to make the process better. If you don’t really dig deep on the “why” of the new process and explain it, you could get employees “wasting perfectly good meat” because they don’t know the end goal of the task at hand.
Successful change management relies on communicating the “why” and employees being encouraged to think about positive changes they could make to current processes so that resources aren’t unnecessarily wasted.
With these tips, you’ll be even better equipped to manage change in your firm. While implementing document management software comes with its set of challenges, using these tips to create a good experience for your team will ease the pain and generate more excitement for the benefits a document management system (or any new technology) has to offer.