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What's In It For Me? How Leaders Can Help On-site Teams Adopt New Technology

There are over 64,000 apartment leasing agents, according to Zippia. The same study says the average age of an employed apartment leasing agent is 47 years old. Whether your leasing agents are younger or older, many agents have the same mindset of — what’s in it for me? — when new technology or projects are introduced.

This may seem blunt and out of character for your leasing agents, but to some degree, they want to know if their efforts will positively affect their personal performance or how supervisors view their contributions. 

As a leader, when you implement a new technology across your team(s), you may notice that not everyone jumps on it at once. The pressure of adding yet another technology to their exhausted list of to-dos is often met with a deer in the headlights reaction. The feelings of joy and appreciation you were expecting to receive can turn into feelings of anxiety and sometimes frustration. You were expecting your team(s) to hone in, but unfortunately, they tuned out.

So, how can leaders get their teams excited about adopting a new technology? Empathize with your team(s) and lead with their mindset: What’s in it for me?

How to Subtly Answer the What’s In It for Me?

Let’s discuss an example. As a person in a leadership role at an apartment community, you want to implement a new technology to speed up leasing efforts. For the sake of this example, let’s say you have found a video leasing tool and believe it could make a real difference in your on-site team’s day by saving them time and allowing them to close more leases. And, you believe it’ll truly help your teams perform at a higher level since you care about their personal career development at your company.

As you begin implementing this video leasing tool across your community, you immediately run into a problem — teams aren’t using the software. You’ve spent time and money evaluating this tool to ensure it’s successful for teams, but you soon find out that usage isn’t as high as you’d like. Frustrating, right? Here’s what you can do:

  • Salvage the situation. Gather your team to openly discuss the immense benefits you know this tool will provide to them, ultimately getting to the what’s in it for me?
  • Ask questions. Ask your team to identify one or two tasks they can give to take on a new technology—since you’re adamant this leasing tool will help their day-to-day. 
  • Communicate often. At first, your team might not see the value in learning a new technology because they haven’t had the chance to ask questions or dedicate time to the tool's training. As their leader, it’s your responsibility to create space for them to see how the tool helps them save time just like you did when evaluating the tool for yourself.

For Next Time

Here’s what you can do next time you evaluate a tool or if you’re currently evaluating a new technology. Let’s stay with the video leasing tool example.

Before telling employees about your overall vision for the tool, communicate the recent gaps you’ve seen that aren’t due to the lack of their work. Ask questions to make them feel a part of the decision-making process. Then, explain how the video tool will help them save time in their day (a key outcome that answers what’s in it for me?). 

For example, you could say:

“Hi team, I want your input on a new initiative — I’ve noticed you all are incredibly busy lately. So, to alleviate stress, I’m evaluating [tool] to help reduce the time it takes to do in-person tours and replace some with virtual tours through [tool]. Has anyone heard of [tool]? Do you have any reservations about a new technology? Do you have an existing tool you don’t see the need for?”

Your Influence Matters

As we’ve learned, communication and transparency are crucial when adopting a new technology. As a leader, your influence matters to your team, and they should trust your decisions. However, you can build even more trust and influence when you make your team a part of the conversation. Remember, most employees want to have a voice and feel like a value-add to the company. It's not just me, a millennial, suggesting it. It's my millennial friends in multifamily too.

 
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

This is all good advice. When our customers plan to implement new systems, we tend to suggest controlling the rollout based on the following:

Solicit a small sample of volunteers to be the "guinea pigs". Some people embrace change and new technology.

Talk about the initial implementation plan and make sure no one has a particular conflict (e.g. vacation, medical treatment, family home on military leave, etc.).

If at all possible, don't set up implementation in months where site staff effort is at its peak (budgets, holidays, year-end, etc.). If you do, be sure to acknowledge the additional work it will take to successfully implement and be sure to establish some kind of "reward" to show appreciation for the teams. You'd be surprised how much someone appreciates something like a meal delivered for the family or reimbursement for extra child care. It is nice to show appreciation not only for your staff but for their families as well.

If you haven't done so already, investigate hybrid work situations when some of the work can be done from home...and acknowledge the work done from home. Be sure you're reimbursing staff for expenses incurred to establish a home office. I'm surprised how many staff have complained to me that their employer will not pay for upgraded internet service, modems, routers, virus protection software, etc.

Set up meetings with the "guinea pigs" sites to talk about "lessons learned" and modify the implementation plan before proceeding.

Set up meetings with all sites to talk about "lessons learned" and modifications to the implementation plan.

Talk to staff who are "next in line".

Think about setting up a group (usually from the guinea pigs) that will assist in answering questions during implementation or set up a knowledge board for Q&A to assist with the support of the implementation.

Ask about rumors so that you can address them. It's interesting that, in a lot of cases, staff will not volunteer to share what they have...

This is all good advice. When our customers plan to implement new systems, we tend to suggest controlling the rollout based on the following:

Solicit a small sample of volunteers to be the "guinea pigs". Some people embrace change and new technology.

Talk about the initial implementation plan and make sure no one has a particular conflict (e.g. vacation, medical treatment, family home on military leave, etc.).

If at all possible, don't set up implementation in months where site staff effort is at its peak (budgets, holidays, year-end, etc.). If you do, be sure to acknowledge the additional work it will take to successfully implement and be sure to establish some kind of "reward" to show appreciation for the teams. You'd be surprised how much someone appreciates something like a meal delivered for the family or reimbursement for extra child care. It is nice to show appreciation not only for your staff but for their families as well.

If you haven't done so already, investigate hybrid work situations when some of the work can be done from home...and acknowledge the work done from home. Be sure you're reimbursing staff for expenses incurred to establish a home office. I'm surprised how many staff have complained to me that their employer will not pay for upgraded internet service, modems, routers, virus protection software, etc.

Set up meetings with the "guinea pigs" sites to talk about "lessons learned" and modify the implementation plan before proceeding.

Set up meetings with all sites to talk about "lessons learned" and modifications to the implementation plan.

Talk to staff who are "next in line".

Think about setting up a group (usually from the guinea pigs) that will assist in answering questions during implementation or set up a knowledge board for Q&A to assist with the support of the implementation.

Ask about rumors so that you can address them. It's interesting that, in a lot of cases, staff will not volunteer to share what they have heard unless they are specifically asked. You can't fix a problem if you don't know about it.

While these tips do make the rollout timeline a little bit longer, you may find greater acceptance from many of the existing managers because they are part of the entire process.

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  Mary Ross

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