Don’t Sabotage User Adoption with Bad Management

Dec 14, 2023 | Strategy & Execution

Aligning with Self-Determination Theory (Autonomy, Competence, Relatedness) equals successful management and high user adoption with any system.

The four ways you sabotage your impact and fail adoption before you even start:

  1. Ignoring User Feedback and Needs
  2. Overcomplicating the System
  3. Inadequate Training and Support
  4. Neglecting to Align the System with Organizational Goals

By no means do I claim to be the most informed management expert here, but there are certain principles we all should know as managers. Much smarter people than me define these and study their efficacy within people and organizations.

In the world of nonprofit organizations, we all have to adopt a program management system when we reach a certain size. It drives clarity and impacts growth. However, certain approaches can almost guarantee low adoption rates among your team and cause less clarity and impact confusion.

These pitfalls drive confusion, which leads your team to frustration and lowers your impact.

As with most issues, these pitfalls have more to do with good management principles than technology. Support your team to thrive with the principles of Self Determination Theory and avoid forgetting them when you look at system implementation.

Ignoring User Feedback and Needs

A surefire way to alienate your team and ensure low adoption rates is to ignore their feedback and needs. If you ever catch yourself saying: “I know what they’ll say”, you should stop and take note. Even if you do know, the team’s involvement will encourage ownership and increase the escalation of commitment to the new system. Ignoring user needs, or assuming you know, goes against the SDT principle of ‘autonomy’, which emphasizes the importance of feeling in control and having a say in one’s environment. Without input, users feel disempowered and disconnected from the system, leading to resistance and low engagement.

Overcomplicating the System

When a system is loaded with features and complexities that users don’t understand or find irrelevant, it becomes a source of frustration rather than a tool for efficiency. This not only undermines users’ sense of ‘competence’ – an essential element of SDT that refers to feeling skilled and capable in one’s activities – but also creates a sense of overwhelm. Users need to feel confident in their ability to navigate and utilize the system effectively; otherwise, they are likely to disengage.

Inadequate Training and Support

The lack of adequate training and support is a critical error. Effective training is key to ensuring that users feel competent and confident in using a new system. Without this, users are left to struggle on their own, which can lead to a feeling of incompetence and frustration. This directly contradicts the SDT focus on promoting ‘competence’. Ongoing support is also crucial for addressing issues and questions that arise as users become more familiar with the system. Neglecting this area can result in users giving up on the system altogether.

Neglecting to Align the System with Organizational Goals

Finally, failing to align the system with the organization’s goals and mission is a common mistake. Your program management system, whether Saleforce or another, should be the foundation by which you deliver, track, and report performance. For users to fully engage with a new system, they need to understand and appreciate its value and relevance to their work and the broader objectives of the organization. This means an arc from their activities to reports generated by the system that provide each team member feedback on their impact. This alignment resembles the SDT principle of ‘relatedness’, which involves feeling connected to others and being part of a larger community and impact. When users see how the system supports the mission and their participation in that mission, adoption will flow downhill.

In summary, begin by realigning your management, and processes to inspire more thriving within the three principles of this theory. Infuse that philosophy into the way you project manage your Salesforce implementation and management and the rest will take care of itself.

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