Improving the Relationship Between People and Technology

Written by Melinda Starkweather on July 8, 2019

When trying to bring in new technology into an organization, it is guaranteed that you will be met with resistance, because any sort of change often is. You need that buy-in from people first, otherwise there’s going to be struggle in incorporating the technology into operations. This is why there needs to be a focus on the people, on sharing information they might be missing, and understanding their needs and concerns. The solutions you want to bring in have to work for the organization, and also meet individuals’ needs. Sometimes, instead of simply on-boarding new technology solutions, a more strategic cultural solution is necessary.


Everyone who works in the organization needs to buy into the technology-incorporated strategy before it is implemented. In organizations for which I’ve helped bring in technology, I’ve seen staff members who dug in their heels and wouldn’t cooperate with it because they just didn’t buy into it; they didn’t believe it. In some cases, they felt like it might impact their job security because something that was suddenly being automated was going to be taking over their jobs. You have to help everyone understand that they’re going to have a role and that the technology will be facilitating what they do and what the organization does.


You want to evaluate staff who are to give ideas a try, and identify them as allies in change. People who see the value in technology are typically agile. They’re learners—they’re open to learning, they’re open to upscaling and they are also service-oriented. They want to meet the needs of their organization. While there are some people who are more naturally agile, agility can be taught; it can be learned. I have run into organizations that have created a culture that’s non-agile but that said, within that culture, there have been very agile people who were bursting to get out and fix and improve things. And then within more agile cultures, there have been some holdouts that are used to their processes and doing things the way they’ve always done them. What I think is really interesting is that age isn’t necessarily a factor. I’ve seen people in their 60s and very close to 70 who are learning agile project management, and who are excited to change. And then I’ve seen people who are younger, who are maybe in their 20s and 30s and just don’t feel like upscaling—they’re comfortable where they are. So, it may be a varied group from which you need to identify the agents of change.


Once you’ve identified the people with the right mindset to adopt new technology solutions, organize and orient them to help manage the change project. Establish regular meeting times to identify people who need help.

You need people from different levels within the organization. When it comes to really small organizations, then obviously you wouldn’t need many people; your change team might be made of two individuals. They just need to understand people in different departments and at different management levels. Larger organizations will need several individual with different skills (IT, HR, QA) and connections to different departments.

What does it mean to be in the change team? It means listening to people—listening for resistance and grumbling. Discontented staff may bring feedback and issues that those at the executive level might not be aware of. One of the biggest reasons for resistance is staff feeling like the new technology is going to negatively impact the culture and service. An issue that impacts member experience needs to be explored and addressed.

If assembled correctly, the change team will become a trusted resource who can listen to and acknowledge concerns that may otherwise create resistance. Some problems may be technical, some emotional, some personal preference, and some relate to learning new work flows. The change team becomes an army on the ground, identifying ways to help staff feel comfortable and confident with the new system. No leader can manage change alone.