Something New In The Workplace


In every single workplace, from time to time something new arrives. Sometimes its the arrival of a new employee, a newly renovated working area, a change in furniture, or in the case of Social Services technology in Ontario, an entirely new computer database and online system.

Now with change, as with many things in life, you’ll have those who embrace it, loathe it, love it and even a few who don’t seem to care one way or the other. Good advice 99% of the time is to embrace it because it’s coming whether you like it or not, and the day it arrives you have to deal with it. For me personally, that day is today.

I love change in general. Change prompts me to adjust, work with conscious awareness of the present, learn something new, use skills that sometimes go unused for periods where little changes, and it keeps things interesting instead of stagnant.

The most interesting thing about this technology change is that it’s a complete overhaul, not just an upgrade to a newer version of a past program. On the surface of things, I have my reservations about it in some respects; it appears cumbersome, it isn’t intuitive to use, there are many steps to take to complete processes that in the current model are well understood and simpler. But it’s here and I’m thrilled.

This one is different though. In the new year our clients will be able for the first time to sit anywhere they have internet access and log in to view their file. They won’t be able to see all of it of course, but they will be able to see if cheques have been released, if something is holding up their assistance; even enter some new relevant information such as an address change or change in their family size, employment status or rental amount. First we learn it, then we teach them how to do all these things.

Of course there is the usual nervous excitement that comes with change. Questions about how quickly I’ll pick it up and be able to use it comfortably are on everyone’s mind including mine. Some people across the province have been so intimidated by this new system, they’ve actually resigned from their jobs and taken early retirement rather than learn a new system.

Now while I’ve got my reservations, I’m also 100% in as I should be. After all, if I give it my best effort and grasp it I benefit. If I give it 100% and I don’t get it as quickly as I’d like, I can always be honest with myself and say I gave it my best. And if I self-sabotage and fight it tooth and nail and grumble about it to anyone who will listen that isn’t all that productive because it’s still going to come this morning. All I’d have accomplished with that attitude is be the guy the good people avoid. I don’t want that.

There will be bumps and problems. It may crash today as everyone gets on it across the province at the same time. It may run slow, and some people who thought they would be able to get on and get to work may in fact not be able to log on for some reason at all. That’s anyone’s guess. I’m not saying I’m predicting problems, but if you anticipate that problems may happen that have to be worked out, it makes them easier to accept when they do happen. Of course it could just run beautifully too, and that would be most welcome!

In our office we’ve got a team of people ready to help. This implementation team is doing what they can to make the transition fun. Today they’ll provide us with lunch, we can wear jeans today, and upon arrival we’ll all get ‘treat bags’ with swag and the promise of chocolate throughout the day if we want it. They have also identified themselves with blue t-shirts so they’ll be easy to spot and to get help from.

We have also notified all our clients of this transition to a new system. Some won’t care of course, and that’s not being mean, it’s just being factual. New computer system or not, they just want good customer service and want their questions answered and their money for food, rent and transportation. Can’t blame them at all. Hopefully we get their support and patience as we transition, but we can’t demand it.

Seeing change as an opportunity is healthy. On the other hand, change does have it’s downside for some. On Friday of this week one of my team members is moving on to another job in another division. She’s very good at what she does and has a great attitude. She’s also fun and nice to work with because she and I share some similar philosophies of service and care. I’ll miss her.

But change is opportunity. Someone will replace her and that’s a change to embrace because it’s a new person to throw into the mix and will affect the chemistry of the team. Might be great, might not be, but why not think positively given the alternative is to be pessimistic? New to the job, experienced, male or female, who knows. We all want to find out and will in time.

Change is just that; change. It is neither good nor bad itself. It’s how we perceive and act on it that matters.

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