Colleagues and IT: how do you get them to adapt faster?

15 November 2019

You already know your way around the digital landscape. Colleagues turn to you with their questions whenever they have an IT-related problem. You make sure that you stay up to date and always look for ways in which IT can support and improve education at your school. A big change in your school’s IT infrastructure is imminent. You’re ready to move forward, but now you need to get the rest of the team excited. How do you do that?


Almost all changes first encounter a wall of resistance. We all know: prevention is better than cure. But how do you do prevent hitting that wall? You yourself may have been busy for some time with the changes that are bound to happen. You’ve sorted things out and discussed what needs to be done with the principal. The plans are presented to your colleagues on a beautiful day, and all of a sudden they must start working with this new “thing”. That’s when resistance will arise. Certainly when it affects their daily work practice.


Step 1 is always to create support. Make sure that you keep your colleagues up to date right from the start. You are looking for a solution to problem A. Share the reason why a change is needed. Get them involved. Do they have any ideas? Is there something you really need to consider? Who knows – you might have missed something. This way your colleagues are informed and can make their contribution. Keep them in the loop during the following phases as well. You’ve been busy trying to find a solution and are likely to opt for solution B. You’ve looked at different parties and company C is now preferred. Of course, it all depends on the kind of change you are facing, but this is how the phases could look like.


Fear and uncertainty

A lack of enthusiasm for the new solution can arise from fear. Anxiety may sound a bit heavy, yet it’s a common reaction when the unknown presents itself. “What does this mean for me? I don’t know much about computers… Will I manage?” Uncertainty quickly comes into play. You can forestall this by minimizing people’s fear of change. Make sure that the team receives training so that they are able to work with the new product as soon as possible after the IT change is implemented. Not everyone is at the same level when it comes to IT? Then divide the team into two groups. By building up knowledge and understanding the specifics of the product, people will become more confident.


This is going to take time

A common objection is: “I don’t have any time for that at all. Do I have to do this every day?” If you get this kind of feedback, you may have skipped an important step: to identify the benefits and demonstrate them. You’ve explained that you think you’ve found a solution to problem A, but how does this actually help your colleagues in the classroom? Show concrete examples. Show how it works while the teacher and the rest of their class are watching. And whether it will cost them extra time? Of course, they will have to invest some time in the beginning to get to know the product in all its details. But the idea is that IT will make their work easier in the long run.

So here’s a list for successfully navigating change:

  • Involve colleagues from the beginning
  • Share the reason for the change
  • Ask for input and suggestions
  • Name the benefits and let colleagues experience them


Invest your energy wisely

Not all your colleagues will react to changes with the same degree of acceptance and enthusiasm. They can be roughly divided into three groups:

  • Group 1, the most enthusiastic group, leads the way. “How nice, something new, I’m going to try it right away!” You only need to support this group where necessary.
  • The second group asks more questions. “Why are we doing this again?” They need time to get used to changes in their work routine, yet find it quite exciting and are inspired by the positive experiences of colleagues in the first group. This middle group needs knowledge, skills and your persuasiveness and encouragement at the beginning.
  • The third group has been digging their heels in from the start (“I didn’t ask for this”) or reacts with reluctance (“This is going to take too much of my time”). You’ve moved through all of the above steps with them, and yet they still stand with their arms crossed? Well, that can cost you much of your energy. But remember, if a change is implemented in the entire school or district, at some point everyone just has to come along.

So ask yourself how you can best distribute your energy. Do you invest in the first group, in the middle group whom you can support with training and explanation, or in the stubborn individual who isn’t open to your attempts to make a change for the better together?

Hold it!

You are now a several steps further in the process. The change has been implemented. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking: I’m done. Even now, colleagues can still withdraw due to lack of participation. To prevent this from happening, many schools organize a special IT moment every week. This is where everyone can ask their questions, help each other and exchange tips or experiences.

Make sure that someone is available to support your colleagues, at least in the initial phase. Someone who can and wants to take the time to do this and who knows how to handle all questions patiently. Give the right example. Show how IT can help in the daily work. IT is not scary! For example, use a convenient app for team meetings or show how you got those well-organized charts in your spreadsheet for the parents’ evening.

Is your school on the threshold of change? Could you do with more tools and knowledge in this area? Make sure that you yourself are fully prepared. Read up, ask for experiences from other schools or book a meeting with one of our our COOL experts.

To implement changes successfully and sustainably:

  • Schedule a recurring accessible IT moment
  • Make a person in the organization available for questions
  • Give the right example
  • Be prepared yourself for the change process