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How to Streamline Employees' use of a New System


1. Do you face this kind of employee resistance?
2. How would you solve this problem?
3. What are the problems with SOLUTION A?
4. What are the problems with SOLUTION B?
5. How do you overcome resistance to SOLUTION B?
6. How do you make sure Solution B works?

1. Do you face this kind of employee resistance?

As a manager, you hire subordinates. For this example, let's assume you're Manager of Technical Publications and you hire a new tech writer. Here's a typical scenario.

Step 1. Your new subordinate (tech writer) takes several weeks or months to develop his or her individualized system for doing the job.

Step 2. Your new tech writer fails to document his/her system for doing the job.

Step 3. Sooner or later, your tech writer leaves or gets promoted.

Step 4. You now have a problem: No tech writer, no documentation, NO SYSTEM.

2. How would you solve this problem?

You can solve this problem a couple of ways (A and B below).


You could hire another "good tech writer" and return to Step 1 above.


You could have your tech writer(s) develop and document a tech writing SYSTEM that works and also does the following:

___ Accommodates individualized needs, and,

___ Always applies whenever a given writing task is done - no matter who does the job.

Once you implement SOLUTION B, you can now forget about having to hire yet another "good tech writer" who starts with STEP 1 above.

3. What are the problems with SOLUTION A?

SOLUTION A causes a "revolving door" persistence of the original problem: UNDOCUMENTED, INDIVIDUALIZED SOLUTIONS.

4. What are the problems with SOLUTION B?

You will probably discover certain problems when you try to implement SOLUTION B - a new system - in ANY department.

Why? Change terrorizes the mind. So, your subordinates will probably:

___ Vigorously defend the "status-quo," and

___ Predict "difficulties" with a new system saying things like:

"Our current system is good enough!"
"We have no time to document or implement!"
"Every situation is unique!"
"We don't need a documented system - everyone
knows what to do!"
"Systems are inhuman!"

5. How do you overcome resistance to SOLUTION B?

You must "position" SOLUTION B for your subordinates so that you:

___ Overcome subordinate resistance, and,

___ Improve working conditions (NOT because profits are dwindling, or because quality is lacking. Why? Because, blaming them will only cause more resistance, and unfortunately, they usually don't care about company profits.)

So, to grease the skids, you announce the new system with a memo (and optional meeting) to:

___ Draw attention to your subordinates' working condition(s), appealing to their sense of self-interest, so they begin to experience their own dissatisfaction with the "status-quo."

___ Triangulate the problem as a third entity to minimize any subordinate guilt feelings. In other words, you and your subordinates solve the problem TOGETHER- the PROBLEM is the culprit.

"But Mike, I have already created a solution..."

If you already have a created a PRE-PROGRAMMED SOLUTION, you can position it as:

___ The most viable of available solutions. (You selected it because it seems to be flexible to satisfy individual needs.)

Otherwise, you can:

___ Delegate the design and documentation of a new solution to someone in your group.

In either case, over time you:

___ Conduct at lease 3 "Design Review Meetings," attended by all relevant personnel (this fosters authorship and emotional commitment).

___ In your final Review Meeting, ask your subordinates:

"Are you all satisfied with this plan as a start?"

"Yes? It's fine with me; you know what you're doing."

(NOTE: If you still experience high resistance from some subordinates, you can assign a TEST project to one or more of the less resistant subordinates to TEST the new system.)

6. How do you make sure Solution B works?

In any case, you then announce a TEST PERIOD consisting of the following steps.

___ Announce a period of testing, say 60-90 days (whether you've selected your pre-programmed solution or their new solution).

___ Solicit written reports from all subordinates. (See SYSTEM TEST REPORT FORM below)

___ Acknowledge ALL reports, favorable and unfavorable (to show that you're paying attention).

___ Circulate favorable reports to reinforce subordinates' emotional commitment.

___ Praise the quality of results produced by the new system.

___ Save unfavorable reports for redesign consideration after the 60-90 days test period.

You'll find that within 60-90 days, subordinates will perceive the new system is THEIRS (which it is)!

___ Add the new system documentation to your Operations Manual.

Now, you can forget worrying about losing your prima-donna subordinates! Now, almost anyone can do the job(s) masterfully by following the documented SYSTEM.


Below are sample questions you can use in your SYSTEM TEST REPORT FORM. Have your subordinates fill out the form during your new system test period.


From __________ To __________ Date __________

The system I am evaluating is: ____________________

What I like about the system is: ____________________

I think the system needs improvement in the following area(s): ________________________________________________

As you can see, this approach can be used in any department. Here's the point:

Don't let employee resistance to new technology and systems stunt the growth of your business!

We can help. We've got a system, refined over hundreds of projects, to serve clients.


Mike Hayden Principal/Consultant, Your partner in streamlining business.

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