Personas must take on a new dimension to support technology adoption
Personas, which represent the goals and behaviours of groups of users based on data collected, play a critical part in technology adoption. Because, how people use and embrace the technology is dependent on their persona. That’s why we invest so much time with our clients to really understand the roles and their key traits within their organisation.
Having this knowledge helps us to develop personas that speak to the pain points, workstyles, attitudes and goals. It means we can create compelling messaging that appeals to each persona, so they engage and adopt the new technology. And, often our persona work is a ‘phase two’, following on from ‘phase one’ where the technology transformation team has chosen the best technology to suit employees’ roles.
However, a recent report from Microsoft called ‘Five faces of today’s employees’ questions the traditional one-dimension ‘job role’ approach to personas. It positions that by truly understanding your team and how they collaborate, you can best utilise the technology you have at hand. Their proposition adds a new dimension to personas by placing a focus on the individual – their age, personality, how they want and like to work, and their expectations of technology.
Moving forwards, to successfully drive technology adoption, personas must be two dimensional based on the job role and who we are. Take millennials as an example. Instant messaging (IM) is their preferred method of communication, they want to work flexible hours and have the flexibility to work from different locations. Having access to good technology 24/7 is a must as they’re prepared to work longer hours outside the traditional 9-5. But how does this persona seamlessly interact with a baby boomer or generation x? These generations are used to technology change but tend to prefer email, aren’t always contactable via IM or are lovers of video calls/meetings.
Then take personality types. Being an introvert or an extrovert plays a part in how we communicate; extroverts may be happier chatting on the ‘phone or via video, whereas an introvert may prefer to IM or email. And, what if you’re a lark or a night owl? Technology evolution is a driver of flexible working and as flexible hours become more common, some people will want to do their work in the evenings and others in the early morning. So, how do team members best communicate and work with each other at opposite times of the day?
Technology gives us greater freedom to behave as individuals in the workplace. But, the consequence is an infinite number of two-dimensional personas to understand and support when managing the change workstream of a technology transformation programme. So, what will need to be taken into consideration when developing two-dimensional personas moving forwards?
- HR will have to play a critical role in providing data on employee profiles and personality tests to support the ‘who am I?’ dimension of personas.
- Line managers know their team best and will be pivotal in extracting intel on individual traits, relaying how the team interacts with each other, and working out how best to mesh these traits and behaviours to technology usage. Afterall, employees seek permission to change from their line manager according to a report from Prosci.
- Team workshops will be vital, so everyone gets to know each other’s ‘who am I?’ profiles.
- The change and engagement workstream will need to create role-based and key ‘who am I?’ personas to nail messaging and appeal to all the audiences.
- And, there will be a requirement to develop best practice guidelines on how to communicate with different ‘who am I?’ persona types.
Two-dimensional personas are in the early evolutionary stage and it’s going to require additional process and mapping techniques to make it work. But, it is the way forwards and we’re excited to see how it plays out. After all, if you don’t take the ‘who am I?’ into consideration with technology change you’re going to hit communication barriers that hinder working relationships, rather than breaking those communication barriers down to create collaborative working relationships.