Based on a research report Chess Media Group released last year on the State of Enterprise 2.0 Collaboration, the most common types of employee/user resistance to collaboration are: employees don’t want to learn a new technology, employees don’t have the time, and employees are already overwhelmed with existing technologies they are using. Let’s take a look at each one in more detail and explore how to deal with them when they come up.
 
Users Don’t Want to Learn a New Technology

The key here is to convey that this is not about technology but about improving the way employees work, collaborate, and communicate. If you simply tell employees about a new platform that the company is rolling out, of course many will be reluctant to join. Employees have a certain way they work, and this process and method shouldn’t be disrupted; instead, it should be enhanced. Social and collaborative technologies are not meant to act as additional things to do or to be the ugly duckling of the enterprise. These tools are integrated into an existing way of work, which means that if an employee has a four-step process for doing something, that process will either stay the same or be shortened as a result of these deployments. User resistance is a factor only when you threaten to change how things get done and convey that employees are going to have to do more work instead of less. Also, keep in mind that collaboration has a certain amount of self-interest to the individuals collaborating. This means that employees need to understand what’s in it for them, not just what’s in it for the company.

Users Say They Don’t Have Time

Education can play a crucial role in showing employees that using these tools isn’t going to take more time but will help them save time by making their jobs easier. Understand where your users are spending their time and show them how using the new tools will cause them to spend less time doing the tasks they are doing now. For example, if employees say they already spend a lot of time searching for information or people to work with, let them know that those tasks will be shortened.

Users Are Already Overwhelmed by Existing Technology Platforms

It’s completely understandable that employees are overwhelmed by the many social and collaborative tools and platforms that exist today. I have found that in the most successful instances these enterprise collaboration tools don’t serve as additional tools; they serve as the central resource for employees within an enterprise. Think of it as the operating system for the enterprise in which everything they need can be done or located from within a central hub. This isn’t a technology add-on; it’s a platform that will become a part of an employee’s day-today job. From this platform employees will be able to access anything they need. Of course this isn’t always the case; often these social tools are used as replacements for corporate intranets. But in every case I have seen thus far, these tools have replaced something or have been used as aggregators of other tools. Also, keep in mind that when these new tools are implemented, features should be rolled out in phases to avoid overwhelming employees, something covered in greater detail. Something I will cover later.

How have you dealt with employee resistance at your company and what other types of resistance have you been coming across?  Don’t forget to subscribe to my Facebook feed for more commentary and insight on collaboration (in more bite-size chunks) and also my list of enterprise collaboration vendors.