This famous clip from the movie Office Space is a quick reminder of one of the most commonly overlooked issues when implementing IT systems – motivating people to work. And sure, Initech is a fictional company, but it actually resembles a lot of organizations with which I have worked over the years.
In this scene, the employee Peter Gibbons tells the efficiency consultants how his organization approaches motivation and the impact it has on his work efforts. Does this sound like your organization?
Watch video here.
How do you motivate people to use your IT system?
Whenever you implement an IT system, look at all things affecting employee motivation. Sometimes there are issues with compensation and incentives. Other times the management may actually be demotivating employees.
As Peter says, “I have 8 different bosses right now…so that means when I make a mistake I have 8 different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only motivation – not to be hassled.”
Would WIIFM motivate this employee?
Convention wisdom (which is high on convention, and low on wisdom) often says that when implementing an IT system you should try to “sell people on what’s in it for me”.
Do you think trying to sell Peter on WIIFM would work in this case? Of course not. There are bigger issues that need to be fixed here. And unless these other items are fixed, WIIFM will not work.
So, what will you do to make sure you have motivated people to use your system? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LInkedIn.
Most CRM failures are not due to the system, but because of poor user adoption. CRM systems sit idle. Data is entered late (if at all) and is riddled with mistakes. In short, the system is not used or not delivering value.
CRM systems are some of the hardest to get people to use
For a variety of reasons, CRM systems are some of the hardest technologies to get people to use. The target users – especially sales and marketing professionals – are used to having great autonomy to do their jobs.
And if they are winning deals, hitting their numbers and bringing in money, management is often unwilling to push them to make best use of the system.
Implementing CRM systems changes more than just processes – it changes jobs
The reality is, implementing a CRM system – or most any system, doesn’t just change internal processes. It actually changes the expectations for how people will perform their jobs.
Enterprise CRM systems are in many ways collaboration tools. Multiple users, from multiple departments all need to access the same system and data to perform multiple different business functions. If one user (or department) has not entered the required information (correctly or at all) then another user cannot do their job.
The interdependent nature of people’s jobs means that each user now needs to not just be outstanding at achieving their end goals; they must also do it in a way that enables others to complete their assigned tasks.
Yet, HR is rarely involved in introducing and formalizing the job changes
In effect, implementing a CRM has now made effective collaboration an integral part of each person’s job. You have changed expectations for what it means to successfully perform their job, meaning their job has changed.
And whenever there are changes to job descriptions, responsibilities, skills, and performance criteria, you need to include HR in the process. HR can help you explain new performance expectations to users. They can also include it in future hiring and on-boarding processes, which may help you sustain effective CRM adoption over time.
Oh, and if you are in a highly regulated industry, have union issues, or have other regional or legal considerations, HR can help you navigate any potential hurdles that you might not know you need to jump.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with C-level executives who tell me they spend tons of money and countless hours on their CRM system only to have it sit idle. They talk about how much they have wasted on CRM.
And pretty much all of them had declared that system use would be mandatory. It wasn’t.
Leaders often say that CRM use is mandatory and employees “will have no choice”
Many leaders tell me that they don’t worry about user adoption of their CRM system. They either say that this will be mandatory because they say so or because it is embedded into key processes and so, people will have to use the system to complete the process.
Oh, those poor deluded fools.
The reality is that user adoption is always discretionary. Employees have tremendous degrees of freedom when it comes to it, how, what for, and when they use systems.
The spectrum of adoption goes from absolutely no adoption (not even logging in) to ineffective adoption (add incomplete, inaccurate data or adding data far too late in the process) to moderately effective adoption (some data entered well and a select number of features used) to grade-A amazing adoption (the users who are a poster child for the vendor of what the system can do).
Also, users are very creative when it comes to avoiding the system. They can simply not enter the information or they can get others to enter it for them.
I can’t tell you how many organizations I have seen where a couple of users (often administrators or downstream system users) spend hours on the phone and working via email to get the 4 or 5 pieces of information they are required to enter in the system from other employees who didn’t enter it in the system (as was mandated by above). In cases like this, the business process was completed (after all, the system was embedded in the process), yet there was no effective user adoption. In fact, a lot of time and money was wasted by the additional effort the employee spent getting required information via phone and email.
All because select employees did not adopt the mandatory system.
IT and business leaders often don’t know what to do next
The reality is user adoption is a leadership and organizational challenge, not a technical issue. Many leaders are great visionaries or subject matter experts, but lack the expertise they need to drive and sustain effective CRM user adoption.
And many times, they are not even told it is their job. They have never been told that ensuring effective user adoption is one of their new job responsibilities. And they often don’t have the tools and expertise they need to make it happen.
Training didn’t work last time…so why would it work this time?
When leaders realize they have user adoption issues, they often struggle for solutions. One of the first things they do – as a rote behavior – is to turn to training as the solution. Unfortunately, training is rarely the problem.
Training is a great tool for developing skills, but training alone is not great for changing performance and behavior. There are many other factors that affect user adoption. Rushing to implement a training program before you even identify the problems’ root-causes is a great way to waste a lot of time and money without getting the results you want.
Have a comprehensive adoption & turnaround strategy
Instead of assuming that training is the solution, begin by identifying all of the barriers and drivers affecting CRM adoption in your organization. These often include a variety of process, policy, people, communication, incentives, and support issues. Understand where you have problems and where you have strengths on which to build.
And turning around a failed system is harder than getting it right the first time…
Whenever possible, it is better to avoid CRM adoption problems in the first place then try to correct them after they emerge.
If you are planning (or in the middle of deploying) a new CRM system start by developing an adoption strategy. If you are turning around a failed system, you will need to do a lot of proactive, direct employee engagement activities to help people unlearn problem behaviors and then develop new ways of working.
CRM Success in 10 Simple Steps
Whenever I speak to a new client, at some point the conversation drifts around to what they should do if/when/now that their employees are not using their CRM system.
Some of them wonder aloud if they should include firing as an option, but if they don’t bring it up I will ask them what they are prepared to do if employees don’t use their system.
Rarely the answer is, “Yes, I would fire them.” Sadly, this is exactly what the answer should be. But probably not for the reasons you think.
Deploying a CRM system changes people's jobs, it doesn’t just make their jobs betterMany people make the false assumption that implementing a new CRM system will make their employees' current jobs easier. In reality, it fundamentally changes their jobs. And some people will not like their new jobs.
Changing CRM systems alters the processes people need to follow. It also changes the social contract within an organization for how and when information is shared, who should be able to see the information, and who should be able to act on it. And it changes the rules for how much control and autonomy sales professionals have in how they do their job.
For example, sales reps often tell me that they (not their employer) “own the relationship” with contacts. They may complain about the time and hassle of entering the information in the system, but more often than not, the issue is they don’t want to share the information with others.
Assuming you have defined appropriate system use policies, implementing a new CRM system changes the rules about how, when, and with what degree of control people do their jobs. Effectively, this changes their job descriptions and, therefore, the jobs themselves.
User adoption is a performance management issue, not a communication issue
Many people make the mistake of assuming all they need to do is to “tell” people how the system will make their lives easier and “sell” them on the benefits. This approach doesn’t work.
Telling and selling people on the benefits of a CRM system is like trying to feng shui the deck of the Titanic
Instead, a better approach is to let people clearly and specifically that their jobs have changed. They need to understand that how they did their jobs yesterday (often, quite successfully) is no longer OK and it will not make them successful today.
If people are not using the new CRM system in a timely, effective manner, they are not doing their jobs. I suggest handling it like you would any other performance-related problem, using your organization’s management guidelines and processes for resolving sustained performance problems. These often include things such as putting employees on a 90-day performance improvement plan or other tools, which may include dismissal. I think you see where I am going here.
Set clear and measurable goals for CRM use
One of the things that is key to managing employee performance – including driving adoption of your CRM system – is to set clear and measurable goals for how and when people should use the system. Without these, your employees have a very legitimate case that they were never told exactly what performance standards they need to meet.
For example, very few CRM projects set weekly system-use goals. Simple things like asking employees to enter 5 accounts each week, to add 10 activities, and to update 5 activities by noon on Friday helps both management and employees understand what is needed. And often times, once an employee is in the system they will do more than just the bare minimum.
Enable effective user adoption
One important thing to remember that many times there are barriers – legitimate issues that fall outside the employees’ control – that prevent them from using the system. This can include such things as inappropriate system access rights, information not being entered by other employees, or no time due to competing organizational priorities.
Before you can hold people accountable for not using your CRM system, make sure that you have identified and removed all barriers to adoption, AND make sure that you have provided all of the tools, support, information, and guidance that people need to use the systems.
The best way to do this is to make sure you have a comprehensive user adoption strategy and ongoing user adoption program. That way the organization, managers and downstream employees are all using the same roadmap to take the company in the same (profitable) direction.
And then, hold people accountable
If you have done all of this and your people are still not using your CRM system, you need to ask yourself if they are really the right person for the new job role. Employees who are not using the system cost you a lot of time, effort, and money.
And the way you deal with an employee who does not use the system sends a clear message to all other employees as to whether or not they will be held accountable for performing their jobs. Be careful here.
So, should you fire an employee who does not use your system? You bet you should!
10 Simple Steps: How One Fortune 100 Company Rapidly Increased CRM User Adoption
CRM ebook: a resource for your success