New Process… New Technology… New Resistance?

Categories: Cleaning Applications, Management

By Brant Insero | August 22, 2022 << Back to Articles New Process… New Technology… New Resistance?

Employees often struggle to adopt new processes and technology in their daily routine unless they can see an immediate return for themselves. We have seen this throughout history, dating back to the early days of industrialization when technology started to enhance the production of many products. Within the commercial cleaning trade, large sums of funding have been pouring into the industry to develop innovative solutions for labor-intensive tasks, sustainability solutions, and performance management software.

The most notable challenge is quite simple. How can we have our teams adopt new methods to improve the company’s profitability or reduce operating expenses for those cleaning organizations that self-perform? We should also note that it is common for longer-tenured employees to be the most resistant, due to their comfort and complacency.

As I have seen over the years in multiple industries, company culture can impact the adoption of new methods and technology. In most recent times, the implementation of robotics has been a struggle for many. An employee may be completely set in their ways, but highly respected by their peers. We recognize the impact they could make if they would adapt to a new method. Our goal then must become centralized on our influencers within our organization.

A suggested approach is to bring your influencer into the conversation early when you begin identifying new technologies to implement within the organization. Allow them to provide feedback in a phased approach.

  1. Scanning Phase—Allow your influencer the ability to provide immediate reactions without testing the technology, and then again after leveraging them to become a beta tester.
  2. Development Phase—Ask your influencer to become a member of the team that will develop the new standard operating procedure (SOP). This is the moment that you can align and integrate your new SOP, technology, and standard.
  3. Implementation—The magic really begins here. Your influencer should be asked to join your training team to help your other employees understand the value created through the new technology.

You will begin to witness your company culture starting to shift with the inclusion of other team members during your three-step phase to change. If you are a large enough operation, I would encourage an innovation team that has term limits.

Some staff and employees are competitive. They want to win. Like an athlete, they want to be at the top of their game, beat the competition, and prove to everyone that nobody can beat them. Another trick to the trade is to help the staff remove any blinders they may have, so they can see what else is out there and how to implement the new process or technology. Competition is healthy and provides a sense of adrenaline that staff will leverage to your benefit.

Another less attractive method, but necessary at times, is the removal of old processes and technology. One example that has been used in workshops is the implementation of backpack vacuum cleaners and the resistance of staff to move away from upright vacuums. The staff members were stubborn, not seeing the benefits of the switch, so they continued using the upright vacuums in their facility. At this point, leadership at the organization decided to remove the upright vacuums altogether from operation. At times, drastic measures are needed to encourage employees to make the switch to new technology.

Another angle to help drive change is to manage up. It is sometimes difficult to receive proper resources to implement your innovative solutions for improvement.  If you can generate interest from senior leadership through an inclusive process, your opportunity to develop the resources needed will be significantly enhanced. Collaborative efforts during the scanning and development phases noted previously can generate an increase of adoption. 

Whether you are a trainer, owner, or manager in cleaning, we must remember the concept of “What’s in it for me?” How does the change impact your team? If it benefits them, they are more likely to adapt.

About the Author.

Brant Insero is ISSA director of education, training, certification and standards. He can be reached at [email protected]; phone, 847-982-0800.