BY JEFF SCHMIDTWhen it comes to new products and programs that aim to increase efficiency, reduce losses, and improve safety, business owners now have more choices than ever. One only needs to walk the trade show floor at the most recent Chauffeur Driven Show (or better yet, the one coming up in October) to see the overwhelming number of vendors offering sophisticated fleet management systems, advanced camera technology, electronic logging programs, and more. As a business owner, you understand that new technologies can truly be an asset in a number of areas for your company, but actually realizing those benefits can be difficult without the proper support from those around you. Introducing new technology to your drivers and other employees can present many challenges, but taking the right approach, attitude, and tone can help to make the rollout successful. Strong communication, smart training, and the recruitment of key employees as influencers can help to ensure a positive implementation of new technologies to your team.
While the vast majority of managers believe that embracing new technologies is critical to future success, many struggle with the implementation process. According to a study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting, 63 percent of managers said the pace of technological change in their workplaces is too slow, primarily due to poor communication about the benefits of new products. Clearly communicating the reasons behind your decision to integrate a new technology can help avoid resistance and foster more enthusiasm.
As a business owner and a leader of your company, you must provide a clear vision of what the new product is and how it will improve your employees’ performance. For example, in-vehicle cameras are often met with pushback from drivers who see it is an unnecessary invasion of privacy. However, communicating the benefits of camera technology—increased driver safety, video evidence if a chauffeur is involved in a no-fault accident, improved training—can help to ease their suspicions. Whether you are considering new in-vehicle cameras, a new fleet management system, or other products, it is crucial that you consider and communicate not only the advantage to the company, but also to chauffeurs and the rest of your employees. Make sure you are picking a new product that isn’t overly complicated and more than what you need. We have all bought something because of recommendations only to realize years after the purchase that you weren’t using—or worse, didn’t need—half the available features. A simpler, easy-to-use platform will make the adoption rate much faster.
More Tips for Effective Training
Make It Fun:
Hosting an afternoon or even weeklong classroom-style training session can be boring, so bring in the pizza or sandwiches and get your team members involved in the planning. Offer an incentive or silly award for best question or most improved time. Get them out of their seats to move around frequently.
Break It Up:
Don’t try to accomplish it all in one sitting, especially if it’s a significant shift. Give them the highlights and show them how it will directly benefit them or your customers, don’t just preach or lecture."
The next step is to develop a training and education program: A smart plan can bring chauffeurs up to speed on the new technology and can eliminate any hesitation or resistance to the change. Any program should be comprehensive, and could include video training, demonstrations, written guides or manuals, or other training aides. Business owners should also see if the technology vendor offers any educational assistance. While a new camera system may not require intensive training, an electronic logging system may; the technology being implemented, your employees’ comfort level with it, and time and other resources should be key considerations when deciding on the style of your training and education program. Once a plan has been developed, business owners should appoint one employee to administer and execute the program. This person should be responsible for ensuring that all relevant team members are trained well, and should also conduct ongoing evaluations of comfort and competence. It is also important to lead by example: When possible, company owners should participate in training sessions to show that they too are investing time and energy into learning and adapting to the latest and greatest.
Owners and senior-level managers should do their best to identify staff who will embrace and champion the new technology to influence their colleagues to do the same. While managers and trainers can do an excellent job introducing new products and encouraging adoption, finding someone on the same level as your team can be an even more effective tool. Many people don’t like change, so their mindset going into the training may be negative—and that can spread quickly to your other staff. Designate key people within the organization or in specific departments to act as goodwill ambassadors for others who may have questions. Some employees will feel more inclined to ask a fellow coworker a question rather than looking foolish in front of a manager who may judge their ability to grasp the new tech. Ambassadors will also be able to nip any waves of negativity in the bud before it infects the rest of the team. This is especially effective for those chauffeurs who are part time or not regularly in the office—they can often feel isolated. Recruiting these chauffeurs and staff members with influence early in the process can save significant time, energy, and money down throughout implementation, as influential chauffeurs can work more linearly with other chauffeurs.
While recruiting ambassadors is integral, employers should be careful not to violate the trust shared by employees. There should never be any pressure put upon anyone to share potentially compromising information, and owners should avoid putting these employees in situations that could cause conflict among the team or management—they should serve solely as positive ambassadors. When utilized correctly, influential drivers can encourage and educate their colleagues and help accelerate adopting new technology.
Lastly, have patience and understand that there will be a learning curve for your team. The journey can be frustrating for many, including the owner and potentially the company’s customers, so consider that before you lose your cool. Of course, you should expect the team to pick up crucial features within a reasonable period of time and may have to counsel employees who are simply resisting.
New products and software geared toward the passenger transportation industry have led to increased efficiency and opportunity for growth, but also bring unique challenges to your business. Making the decision to purchase a new technology product is often just the beginning of what can be a long process. With the right tools and approach, however, business owners can ensure that they receive the best return on their investment. Communicating clearly with employees, developing a high-quality training program, and recruiting influential and respected team members early in the implementation process will all go a long way toward ensuring seamless integration into your existing business practices. [CD0916]