Change Management Basics: Four Hands-on Strategies to Support Late Adopters
Authored by: Holly Whitaker, PhD, Learning Strategy Consultant at D2L.
If your adoption plan includes 100% of your faculty completing a behavior like posting a syllabus to their Brightspace course, how confident are you that you’ll achieve that? We know that later adopters will not consider your adoption goal to be a priority, especially if they’ve never used the LMS for anything related to their course.
The truth is that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
In this case, you can lead a faculty member to a brilliant Brightspace tool perfectly suited to their needs, but you can’t make them use it even though everyone else is. Because we all know that the TA is the one who is actually posting that syllabus for those late adopting professors, and that’s probably not the kind of compliance you’re really looking for.
Supporting later adopters requires a persistent, patient strategy that provides individualized support without shame or pressure.
Focus on one tool at a time
If you have an adoption goal that 100% of your instructors will post their syllabus, focus your attention on that one tool. Later adopters will be easily overwhelmed if you are simultaneously pushing multiple tools.
We know that it’s best if a variety of tools are used to achieve a great student experience, but this group is achieving the lowest bar you’ve set. They need to feel supported and encouraged that they’ve accomplished this.
For some, this will be the first time they’ve logged in to any LMS. Make it a pleasant experience that offers positive reinforcement once they’ve accomplished the task. This will encourage them that this LMS thing is not so difficult after all.
Target your communication
Most of the time, your best tool for communicating with instructors is email, but sometimes mailers or showing up to faculty meetings in person is a more reliable medium. Use these communication mediums to target later adopters with case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness and time-saving nature of the tool you’re promoting. If you can use case studies of faculty in their department, all the better.
Remember that communication is just like teaching. Students need multiple exposures to demonstrate the highest achievement. Similarly, faculty members will need multiple exposures to your message to decide to adopt willingly. Later adopters will need many more exposures than early adopters, so include more cycles of your message than you think the average instructor needs.
In those extra messages, always include links to the tutorial and invitations to engage in 1-1 support to accomplish the task. Always share data on how much time has been saved by other instructors, and what those instructors were able to accomplish with their free time. Learn how to create these success stories in this article (Link to Creating Success Case Stories to Reach Middle Adopters)
Offer 1-1 support
Later adopters have a low tolerance for trying things out themselves. They want reliable procedures that lead to quick success. But often they perceive an incredibly high level of complexity simply because working with an LMS like Brightspace is something they’ve never done before. This reinforces a lack of action.
To help bring later adopters along, create the perception of simplicity by offering 1-1 support for working with the tool you’re promoting. 1-1 support can come in the form of holding office hours in your office, in a computer lab or meeting 1-1 in that faculty member’s office.
Include time to connect personally with that faculty member, as this promotes trust. But don’t be surprised if the 1-1 engagement turns to other LMS-oriented questions. Follow their lead. This shows curiosity, which is a sign that they are ready to make progress.
Make sure the support resources are easy to find and easy to follow. Anything that presents a barrier or is confusing will cause the person to continue to resist.
Use mandates sparingly
It can seem convenient to mandate usage especially if you’re up against a deadline. It should spur compliance, but mandates can backfire. Mandating compliance to your adoption goals can alienate faculty and ratchet up resistance. This might ensure that you’re never successful in achieving your adoption goals if the faculty resistance gains political momentum.
However, if you’re focusing on one tool at a time, targeting your communication and offering 1-1 support, you can use mandates as a compliment to your overall strategy. It should never be the first strategy you select. Always communicate proactively about upcoming mandate deadlines – and always offer opportunities for later adopters to get support in those communications.
Later Adopters need different strategies to bring them to success. These hands-on strategies are just a starter kit for those of you trying to reach & convert later adopters. Try these out – let us know how it went. We are glad to offer additional suggestions and ideas for you to try.
Check out the rest of the Change Management Basics articles: