When we are in the role of encouraging nonprofit staff to use technology, we have a vested interest in how they feel about the software. In the spirit of doing everything we think we should be doing to stay connected to staff and to ensure the success of the platform, we may feel compelled to launch a user survey.
How do you feel about the software, do you find the software to be useful, what would you like to see improved?
The survey almost writes itself, and it is an approach taken by many organizations. However, knowing what we now know about user engagement and adoption, is this the best way to proceed? Perhaps there is a more practical approach. The wonderful thing about software is that we can determine its impact and effectiveness by simply evaluating analytics and analyzing usage habits in ways that are much more effective and revealing than any survey answer could provide.
I launched a Yammer enterprise social network for staff at the Union for Reform Judaism, and right away, I knew how the staff felt without having to issue a survey. I knew that some teams took to Yammer right away. Groups were set up, resources were shared, and valuable conversations were occurring. Other people in our Yammer network could see the work these teams were doing, and they began to explore Yammer themselves.
I knew that some staff had no intention of using Yammer. They liked working over email. They chatted each other in Zoom, and they sent versions of files back and forth between different members of their team. They did not necessarily dislike Yammer, but there were perfectly happy with their current means of communication and collaboration.
I could quickly tell that other staff did, in fact, not like Yammer at all. They would pepper me with complaints and questions, and their general attitude made it clear to me that they would not take the easy, necessary steps to learn the platform.
Every day was an opportunity for me to learn and adapt. Had I introduced a survey to the mix, it would have only served to confuse matters. Upon seeing the survey, it may have occurred to staff who were happy with the platform to explore a more negative perspective. Those who were unhappy may have taken the opportunity only to amplify their complaints and general unhappiness. Staff might have sent messages to me through the survey with unrealistic expectations for action in response.
More effective than a survey, I would argue, is being connected to the technology you are encouraging staff to use through empathy, generosity, and transparency.
EMPATHY: Understand that, in many cases, the platform you are encouraging your colleagues to use represents a change in work processes and habits. Put yourself in their shoes, and understand they may be reacting to the new platform, convenient and functional though it may be, with a sense of fear, trepidation, and anger. Give your users time. Coach them. Hold their hand. Be sympathetic and help to address their concerns.
GENEROSITY: Give your users your time. Train them in best practices. Create user guides and hold regularly scheduled office hours. The more generous you are in your support, the more generous they will be in their trust.
TRANSPARENCY: You may be a little confused and concerned about the new platform, too. Make sure your colleagues understand that. You may have to work through change and adoption issues yourself. Make sure your colleagues know that. You may be unsure of the platform. Make sure your colleagues see that. Your transparency will result in trust and connection. The more you share, the more you expose, the quicker your colleagues will adopt the new platform.
We need feedback as we launch new platforms, but we want that feedback to be sincere and helpful. The very best information you can find is on the platform itself. The more engaged you are in its day to day deployment and use, the more vital information you will receive during post-implementation support. Avoid the survey. Embrace the platform.