Change Management in Microsoft 365 Is All About The People, Not The Tech, Says Megan Strant In Our Q&A

Change management in Microsoft 365 is all about the people, not the tools, says change management specialist Megan Strant from Insync Technology, Melbourne, Australia. We caught up with Megan to find out how Microsoft Teams is changing the way we work and why it’s okay to F.A.I.L when we’re learning new skills!

Megan, who is an adoption and organizational change manager within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem at Insync Technology, has a passion for helping people get the most out of their working day. She’s particularly interested in how workplace technology can make or break someone or determine whether they’ll have a good or bad day. Here’s what she had to say.

Learning to install and use Microsoft Teams

Q: How is technology changing the way we work? What’s the old, what’s the new?

Megan Strant: When I think of the old to new with Microsoft 365, it used to be all about product launches, such as Skype. It was all focused on leading up to a go-live or launch day. Some people still treat Microsoft Teams as a product launch that has a go-live day where they say, “Off you go” to users and nothing more.

Where the industry has changed with Microsoft products is, it’s no longer, “We’re implementing a product. You learn and use it.” The focus now is much more about ways of working and cultural change.

So, the technology, from an old to new is really that what used to be a tool on the side of our job, that we used do a part of our role, is now an ecosystem or environment that we live in for our job.

Read also: Free eBook on “How to Become a Microsoft Teams Rockstar”.

Q: There’s been rapid adoption of Microsoft Teams. How are companies changing their ways of working?

Until recently, Microsoft Teams was considered to be an IT project. It was something that had to be “turned on”, and just another product being added to an employee’s day.

But since COVID-19, we’ve witnessed what has been described as “adoption by crisis”. Not only are people adopting it more rapidly, they are being open to it because they desperately need to work from home. Plus, it’s the tool that allows them to keep their job or continue connecting into their workplace and getting things done. Leaders obviously see a massive benefit in the platform now also.

Now, they’ve had to get on board because it’s a critical tool, particularly in the current situation. Even with this, it is still important to have business buy-in.

Leaders have to be passionate about a digital workplace and understand that it’s a journey rather than something you simply flick a switch and turn on.

User adoption is a journey, not an end destination

Q: How long does it take to encourage user adoption of the new technology, for example, Microsoft Teams?

It depends on the employee’s knowledge and role. There’s a big variation across companies. For example, corporate roles versus call center or frontline staff. Their experience and need for Microsoft Teams, Microsoft tools and change management in Microsoft 365 will be very different. So, the training has to be approached very differently.

Q: You say user adoption is a journey. Where does it start? 

I‘m really passionate about starting by strengthening the foundation across an organization. By this I mean, even if an organization has had Microsoft 365 licences for a longer period of time, they may have a range of products that they’re not yet using or fully understanding.

It’s likely that certain knowledge and skills were never fully adopted at the beginning, because people haven’t changed the way they’re working. For example, they’ll still be attaching documents in email, because they think sharing with links is too hard. There is a range of knowledge and up-skill across many features to most staff will still need. So, there’s ways of working that everyone needs to up-skill on before they move forward.

When you implement Microsoft Teams, people suddenly need to collaborate and understand features like pasting links in chat, or uploading files and know how to work online with them. This is when user adoption can fall over.

People really need to learn more to resist that feeling of “this is too hard” or “I don’t get it”. Typically, that’s because they’ve already been left behind in the organizational journey and never had the right guidance or support previously.

It’s really important for a company to consider “What is our benchmark? What are our skills across collaboration and communication that we really think everyone needs to know?”. They should review the capability of staff across Microsoft 365 applications and consider trying to raise that bar and make sure they are bringing everyone along on the journey. Doing that review and driving broad knowledge on key skills before going more complex is so worth it in the long run.

Once an organization strengthens that foundation then can they focus on introducing opportunities for staff to explore other great applications and advanced features such as OneNote, OneDrive, Planner or Forms. Or even allow them to consider better ways they could work with Outlook bolster the skills used every single day.

Read also: “How to create engaging content in SharePoint Online”. 

Q: As technology is constantly changing. How do you train basic users at the same time with those who are already advanced?

It’s tricky. There has to be a clever overlay of both. One of the strategies I was designing recently was an exploration of the modern workplace as a theme and a campaign. And “exploring” meant different things to different people.

At the least savvy end, exploring was, “Would you like to understand how you could share with a link?”. Exploring at a more complex or mid-range might be, “Do you know how to surface a Team notebook shared from Teams into your OneNote full application?” Or, consider trying other apps like Sway, Forms or creating a Flow.

There’s a clever blend you require allowing people to explore at varying levels increasing value across the suite of tools. You need to offer exploration that’s available to meet all levels and offer people the chance to dip in and out when they have the appetite.

Who should own the process of change management in Microsoft 365?

Q: Who should own the change management process?

The key stakeholders are communications, learning, and middle or upper management. You need their permission to get their people to attend sessions and have the time or opportunity to adopt new skills or tools.

You really have to understand the needs and work with different levels of the business, channels and departments to get all of them involved in the journey and work with them finding new ways to improve, innovate and solve problems or add value.

Q: What’s the typical ROI of change management? What are the benchmarks of success?

It’s partly about increasing productivity or efficiency. But it’s also about staff satisfaction. There are processes that you can automate, along with simply increasing knowledge and strengthening capability can really drive efficiency.

But I think a bigger impact is staff satisfaction. And that flows into retention and turnover. If you really think about hiring staff, and trying to attract great talent, if you have great tools that can lead to more success here.

Particularly as younger generations come into the workforce, they’re going to start to look for an organization that has a great, strong tool-set to enable them to be at the forefront in their industry.

If people have great tools and strong foundation, with the tools removing barriers and making their day-to-day job easier, then they are simply happier at work.

5 steps to successful change management

Along with core methodology, there are five things I feel important to ensure a part of a program to be successful.

1. Budget

The budget is crucial for success. An organization has to be willing to see the value in allocating time and money to allowing its staff to upskill and improve their skills.

2. Diver deeper

It shouldn’t be about getting staff to attend training sessions. But more about workshopping and diving deep into departments so they can get support on the tools they need in their area, how to use them and what their area can really use to innovate and be productive.

3. Communication

Strong communication campaigns, with key messaging, as opposed to just updates, can really improve the way you frame it. Align messaging to organisation strategy and develop a journey as an organisation, but also for the roles and departments within it.

4. Strategic vision

Aligning the change with a strategic vision of where you’re heading and how you’re moving forward and modernizing is vital. Because change management in Microsoft 365, and overall, is all about people, not the tools.

5. F.A.I.L

It’s really important to have leadership drive a culture where it’s okay to fail. I really love this expression of FAIL stands for First Attempt in Learning. So, creating a culture where it’s okay to try things and stuff up, because that’s how we grow and embed new behavior.

If this Q&A on change management in Microsoft 365 sparked an interest, we’ve got more free educational content to last you for hours! The Valo Fest recordings on the digital workplace, case studies, diversity at work and so much more are available for free. Get access here!

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