Never underestimate how PAs can power technology change
When we meet with prospective clients to discuss their upcoming technology change, we always ask them about the audiences they’re intending to use, to help with the transition to the new way of working. When we enquire whether they’ve considered using their organisation’s PAs to support the technology change, we’re often met with a perplexed look and a response that they haven’t.
And, when we run our Discovery consultation with clients – where our certified change management specialists spend time getting to know the organisation, its people, culture and working habits to determine the best approach to the technology change – we always ask for a batch of PAs to speak to. We’ve had instances where we’ve been brushed off and had to really push to gain access to speak to them.
When we do get to speak to the PAs, it’s no surprise when we’re told, ‘…it’s great to be included, people always forget about us…’; and, that they then go out of their way to tell us about the real issues with the current technology. Their uninvited PA peers often get involved with their comments and they’re the audience who bother to contact us post meeting with additional stuff they’ve thought of. They’re always engaged, passionate and care. The exact attitude that you need to make change happen!
PAs are rarely a support group who are at the top of the thoughts of a technology change team. But, this is a major mistake. Never underestimate the power of the PA, and here’s why… (Oh, and after you’ve read this you may want to make them a ‘favourite’ contact😊).
The ‘P’ Factor (‘P’ stands for ‘Power’)
Think back to the 90s and how our department formations looked. Back then, every department had a bank of administration assistants and PAs supporting the jobs of everyone from junior to middle and senior management. Now look how technology has changed this in the last 20+ years, enabling us to do our own administration. Rarely do you have an administration assistant, and PAs have become the treasured reserve of the executive management.
PAs have access to the one of the most valuable commodities that make change happen – executives. Prosci research shows that for change to be a success it must be led from the top, and PAs get the most air-time with the executives’ and their listening ears. Additionally, PAs only get and keep their job if they have the executives’ trust. Having executive trust and time on their side, makes them an influential and powerful change asset.
PAs also have networks bigger and stronger than the Hollywood ‘A’ listers! If you want a story to go viral they’re the ones who can help you… In short, they have a multi-layer network like no one else. They’re friends with the other PAs who also have the time and trust of the respective executive they work for, so they can spread the word horizontally across the executive management.
Middle management want access to the executives and tend to gain it via the relationship they build with the PAs. So, PAs can influence the middle management; and, people seek permission to change from their managers, according to Prosci research findings. And finally, PAs usually form good relationships with all employees as they are a central point of an organisation in how it operates.
Remember though, for every great story a PA can tell, they can also tell a bad one! If your technology change goes wrong take time to craft the message, maybe even get their input; and, whatever you do, make sure the story the PAs have is watertight and accurate…
The ‘A’ Factor (‘A’ stands for ‘Applier’)
Moving to the practicalities of technology change. Every programme needs change agents to apply the new ways of working. Most people think of IT Support when you talk about change agents, but the role can include others beyond this audience. Change agents should be people who can apply change at a practical level – and that’s middle managers and PAs.
PAs need to know how the new technology systems work so they can do their job – in supporting their executive in their role – and to also help the executive get to grips with the change themselves. And, because of their ‘P’ factor they can show and help their colleagues with the new way too.
When pulling together the change agent list and training plan, always include PAs as they will help to make change happen and keep it alive. With their engaged, passionate and caring attitudes, PAs really have the ‘wow’ factor that also makes them champions, as they can influence others. Being able to play both change agent and champion, should really put them in striking position in your change strategy.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you with technology change, please contact us.