30 December 2008

"I am in search of Friends, Advocates and Colleagues"

Recently work took over some of the operations of our sister company. The move was made as one of their high up managers left the company to venture down other avenues. This is a change that we had toyed with for a long time but the manager's leaving made the change more of a necessity than a luxury. My IS department was directed to start working our magic. We started our magic show today, or at least got it setup. The tricks will start 1 Jan 2009. (Actually, the company is closed that day so they will really start 2 Jan.)

It is interesting how someone new can bring change simply because they are new. Many of the changes that we are bringing about had been shared with our sister company several years ago. If it helps us we figure it should help them too. Only the owner's wouldn't listen to the existing managers so few things ever changed. It is interesting now that we are able to bring about these same changes, not because we can present a better case but simply because we are new to the company. I guess this might be due to the fact that we don't know better. This is perhaps a mystery I will never know.

Our first trick to roll out a web based hour tracking program. One thing that I have learned over my years of work is this: the old dog CAN learn new tricks, but usually doesn't WANT to learn new tricks. Our sister company has been around for more then three decades. They have kept many of the same processes through those many years and even some of the same people. That is a lot of baggage to wade through when making changes, especially when you are new. Getting the web server prepped with the hour tracking software was fairly easy (we based it on our own installation for uniformity and ease of installing). After it was installed we hit the pavement.

As we traveled across the parking lot Renown and I talked. I explained that as we roll things our I expect the roll outs to be somewhat bumping as we try to get people to embrace the amazingness we were giving them.

"Can't we just say 'the owner said to, so do it'," Renown asked.

I smiled and laughed to myself as I remembered back to a time when I had thought similar.

"We can," I said, "but I would rather we get people exited to embrace our changes. As you are the face of these changes you will want alleys to help get everyone else on board."

We walked into our destination and after a short tour talked with one of those long standing employees. This one is very forward thinking is always looking for better ways of doing things. I counted him as a critical alley.

"What brings you here today?" our contact asked.

"I am in search of friends, advocates and colleagues," I replied smiling.

He looked puzzled.

I introduced his to Renown then explained, "we are getting ready to roll out several new changes. I know that changes doesn't always go over easy here so I am selling my wares in hopes of gaining friends, advocates and colleagues." I then proceeded to perform something of a sales demonstration. I showed of the new features of the time clock and email system. He was glad to be progressing.

As we left I told Renown, "he is someone that would love to play with new things. In fact as you start rolling things out you should them here so they can be advocates with the rest of the company."

We again talked about the need for friends, advocates and colleagues then made our second stop. Our second stop was in the warehouse.

"What?" the manager asked.

"We are here to give you a new time clock," I said while Renown brought is up in the web browser.

"Not something like that," he said pointing to an electronic punch card system that I hear didn't work very well, "because we already got something from you and it doesn't work very well. Will this work better?"

"Hmm, it's just the system we've been using for the past two years. I think it will keep working." He was happier now.

I walked him through the process of clocking in and out while Renown showed him on the computer.

"But this is my computer," he interjected. "It is usually locked, and I don't like to let people on it."

"That's okay," I said. "Your people can do it from the other computer, or any computer in the company for that matter."

"I like it," he said. I smiled. I had scored a friend. Renown and I got to show him how to fix his employee's time punches and add new users. It was easier than I thought. Then I found out why, he has to add up his employees' time card each week. This will definitively save him precious time.

Two down, tomorrow we will search for the third, our colleague. Of course I really hope that we will get more than just these three, but for now their support will help us get things going.

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