Best Practices

4 change management tactics to guide users to success

Published Apr 25, 2024
Taking a user-centric approach minimizes resistance and pain.

Do you know any employee who actually looks forward to a company-wide email announcing a “new and improved” software system that will “make everyone’s jobs easier”? In truth, even if the software can deliver on that promise, a rollout that doesn’t adequately prepare those who will use the tools can’t alleviate their sinking feeling of “here we go again.” Dread of unfamiliar (potentially unintuitive) user interfaces and a protracted, painful learning curve are enough to make any employee — no matter how dedicated — resistant to change. 

According to a 2023 report by Capterra, 71% of workers are overwhelmed by the sheer rate of change in the workplace, and 83% suffer from “change fatigue.” The primary reason cited? Employers aren’t providing the tools and resources needed to adapt to so much change. These numbers highlight the need for a user-centric approach to change management, prioritizing user experience (not just technology) to help ensure a smooth transition.

Understanding Change Management Tactics

What if change management didn’t have to be a source of anxiety? By building on the following four tactics, you can provide employees the onboarding and ongoing support they need to make the most of those new tools you’re rolling out — transforming change from a dreaded sting into a seamless user journey. If you need more information on what is change management check our guide out. 

Four Proven Change Management Tactics

1. Transparency and communication: setting the stage for success

Transparency and communication are cornerstones of successful change management. To avoid the natural angst, you must clearly communicate the change’s rationale and benefits to all users. Explain in advance how the new system will improve and simplify their work by streamlining customer interactions and increasing efficiency. Also, assure them they’ll have plenty of training, in-app guides, and support during the transition.

With Pendo’s in-app messaging features, you can deliver targeted announcements within the old system, leading up to the change, then further messages and explainer videos within the new system. These clear and concise communications will inform users of the “why” behind the change and address any initial anxieties.

2. User collaboration: partnering for a smoother journey

Never underestimate the power of user involvement. Actively seek feedback from those most impacted by the change. For example, you can use:

  • Surveys: Online surveys (such as Google Forms) offer a quick and efficient way to gather broad user sentiment. They can gauge initial reactions to the change, identify areas of confusion, and solicit feature requests.
  • Focus groups: Conducting facilitated discussions of key users — before implementation — can help you understand strengths and weaknesses in existing user workflows, uncover hidden pain points, and gather detailed feedback on proposed functionalities within the new system.
  • User interviews: One-on-one interviews with users can provide in-depth exploration of individual needs and concerns. This personalized approach is invaluable for understanding the specific challenges faced by power users or those with unique workflows.

By incorporating user feedback throughout the change process, you can tailor the implementation strategy to address user needs and ensure a smoother transition. Pendo’s feedback collection and management capabilities allow users to provide feedback directly within the CRM through surveys, in-app polls, and sentiment analysis tools. These insights help you to identify and prioritize improvements that directly address user needs, ensuring a more user-friendly experience for the entire team.

3. Empowerment and support: equipping users for success

Change without adequate training, onboarding, and ongoing support can be disruptive. Equipping users with the resources and support they need to adapt is crucial. An effective onboarding program should include contextual in-app guides that walk them through the latest functionalities, targeted explainer videos and tips, and readily available support channels and knowledge bases.

Some elements to consider in onboarding users for the new or changed system include:

  • Clear goals: Establish clear learning objectives for the onboarding process. What do you want users like Sarah to be able to achieve by the end of the onboarding program?
  • Role-specific modules: Develop training modules tailored to different user groups’ specific needs and workflows. 
  • Interactive elements: Traditional training classes have their place, but interactive elements like walk-throughs, micro-videos, simulations, quizzes, and hands-on exercises directly within the new software can be far more effective at keeping users engaged and motivated to learn.
  • Microlearning and spaced repetition: Break down complex topics into bite-sized, digestible chunks and spread training sessions over time (spaced repetition) to enhance knowledge retention.
  • Provide dedicated support channels: Consider providing real-time support through a live chat functionality embedded within the new system so users can get immediate assistance with specific questions or roadblocks. You can also provide a central knowledge base for user guides, FAQs, how-to articles, and other user content to empower users to find answers to common questions independently. You should also maintain a dedicated support team for complex issues users cannot resolve through self-service options.

Pendo’s digital adoption solutions let you create interactive walkthroughs, tooltips, and feature spotlights that appear within the CRM or any other software interface. These contextual nudges provide timely guidance without overwhelming users, keeping users engaged and on track as they explore the new system independently. You can use Pendo’s analytics and in-app guides to prove and improve the impact of your learning management systems (LMS), identifying knowledge gaps and tailoring future training initiatives to address specific user needs.

4. Continuous learning: fostering adaptability for the future

Digital transformation is ongoing, and your current initiative won’t be the last. By promoting a culture of continuous learning and adaptability, you can also equip users with the skills to navigate any future software updates or upgrades. You can encourage and facilitate knowledge sharing among users by creating an always-on Resource Center where users can find FAQs, release notes, and troubleshooting steps .

To effectively develop such a culture of continuous learning, you need to recognize and reward those who exemplify it. Acknowledge and celebrate users actively participating in training programs, exploring new features, and contributing to the knowledge-sharing culture. Gamification (such as awarding badges or points for completing training modules or contributing to the knowledge base) can be a practical, playful approach to motivate teams to engage in learning activities. Finally, consider creating internal awards for user champions who actively contribute to the change initiative’s success and readily share their expertise with other users of the new system.

By fostering a culture of continuous learning, you equip your entire workforce with the skills and confidence to adapt to the current transition and embrace future changes.

Successful change management tactics are about guiding people—and Pendo can help

Change can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to sting. When your change management is user-centric and includes a well-communicated “why,” readily available resources, ongoing support, and a culture of continuous learning, you can pave the way for a smooth transition and user adoption of the new system. By leveraging these four tactics, you can transform the employee experience from apprehension to empowerment and ownership, now and in the future. 

Ready to transform your change management initiatives? Take a self-guided tour of Pendo for your employees.