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Human factor – The role of inspiring discussions when introducing new IT systems in the workplace

When introducing new IT systems, the importance of personnel motivation is often underestimated. Even the most sophisticated system does not automatically lead to success. Studies have shown that, for example, 60% of all intranet introductions fail after 6 months; often due to the lack of employee engagement. The implementation of top-down strategies, without taking into account the needs of the employees and organizational characteristics, almost sources of failure.

Some obstacles to efficient use are:

  • Fear of changes
  • Fear of losing power
  • Fear of technological barriers – User-friendliness
  • Limited understanding of benefits
  • No or limited personal incentives

can already be eliminated in the planning phase by means of organizational involvement of the employees.

Technology itself is not an ultimate goal – the benefit is user-oriented. For the users, the personal benefit is required. To elaborate benefits for the employees, motivating conversations is crucial.

But how can employees be motivated?

First of all, it is important to understand the motives and motivation of colleagues.

What is motivation?

Derived from the Latin movere (= to move), motivation is a term for conditions and processes that are supposed to explain the performance behavior of a person. The term motive refers to general values that remain constant for a longer period of time, while motivation or motivational behavior represents the current state in a specific situation.

A person with a ambitious motive as a permanent condition can, nevertheless, feel unmotivated in a certain situation because the current conditions do not provide an incentive and do not bring enough challenges.

Motivation is based on the complex interplay of inner values, expectations and attitudes and the conditions in a specific situation.

The SOVOK-Model demonstrates the common motivation theories

Situational conditions (S)

Prior to the behavior. Conditions in the workplace are particularly motivating:

  • Daily activity (degree of variety, difficulty)
  • Clear objectives
  • Management style and social environment
  • Freedom of action and decision-making
  • Responsibility
  • Loyalty and acceptance by colleagues

Organismic conditions prior to behaviour (Ov)

Some conditions and processes can be listed as below:

  • Requirements
  • Expectations, values
  • Commitments, experience
  • Interest and will

Organizational conditions based on the behavior

What was the reaction to the behavior? The reactions are stored as experience and become significant again in the next similar action as preceding organismic factors (Ov).

The own inner reaction afterwards (On)


  • Satisfaction, joy, pride in goal achievement
  • Anger, frustration or embarrassment when goals are not achieved

Causal explanation:

  • Personal capabilities
  • Personal efforts
  • External condictions
  • Luck, bad luck, accident

Consequences and reactions of other persons on their own behaviour (K)

The reactions of other people to our behavior are significant determinants of our actions. If we are slapped on the back, if we are recognized, we will gladly do the same again. If we feel punished, we are more likely to avoid similar situations and tasks. Ignoring our environment and our actions will result in inner disappointment.
The following reactions to behavior increase motivation:

  • They recognize the behavior and talk about it
  • They provide feedback directly about it
  • They appreciate
  • They praise
  • They give constructive criticism
  • They grant responsibility
  • They extend the freedome of action
  • They assign more diverse tasks

Reactions that affect motivation:

  • Ignoring a behavior
  • Permanently criticizing and complaining, not indicating alternatives
  • Destructive criticism
  • Disqualify others, devalue
  • Recall past mistakes
  • Focus on mistakes without acknowledging the positive side

What is important in conducting a conversation?

Basic concepts of communication

Start of communication

All communication should start at the relationship level and only then move on to the content level. In case of disruptions, return to the relationship level. The conversation partners should talk about the type of communication. Starting a conversation on the relationship level helps to prepare to each other. If we recognize the current mood, mood or even tension of the interlocutor, we can eliminate disturbances in advance.

Topic-centered interaction:

  • Each person is responsible for the way the conversation goes
  • Interferences have priority: Go to the relationship level, talk about the interruption and eliminate it immediately
  • Speak by “I” and not “one” or “we”. This opens the door to a lively, responsible and honest discussion.
  • Express your opinion and your feelings! In order to avoid interpretations, misinterpretations or even insinuations, everyone should clarify themselves.
  • Pay attention to your body signals as well as the body signals of others.
  • Reason your questions
  • Avoid generalizations
  • Be cautious in interpreting the opinion of others
  • Let others finish
  • Listen carefully

Partner-centered communication, active listening:

  • Listen
  • Repeat important thoughts with other words, like “You mean…”
  • Give short supplementary comments (Hm, Aha, Yes)
  • If you have difficulties, you can ask for the help
  • Signal your acceptance
  • Create a pleasant, fear-free atmosphere for discussions

This way of conducting a conversation is experienced as very motivating. With a partner-centered conversation and active listening, you help the other person to structure and formulate his or her feelings, thoughts, ideas and problems more clearly.


Feedback on the behavior of another person is an important element of the conversation. In order to achieve the right motivational effect, it is essential to follow certain rules:

  • Be as long as necessary and as short as possible
  • Formulate behaviorally and precisely
  • Do not refer to personalities and characteristics
  • Clarify that this is a subjective impression
  • Do not give any interpretation or assumption

Communicate general conditions

  • Demonstrate the objectives of the project and the requirements from your perspective to the employee
  • Positioning: Is it a departmental project or a company-wide project?
  • Examine the potential impact on the employee: Does more efficient work management free up time? What happens to the time released?
  • Signal of support and acceptance from employees
  • As a supervisor, demonstrate the measures

Conclusion: Motivating conversation affects everyone

Both our private and professional life always takes place in social contexts. Communication – conversations are the fuel. Conscious and systematic conversation helps to make encounters with others not only more satisfying but also more successful.

The general conditions of motivating conversations are only a partial outline of the topic and should provide an introduction to the topic. Above all, it should be shown that emotional motives of employees must be taken into account in order to achieve successful action.

Helmut Wegener, Dipl.-PC supervisor sgd


Nghiep Chi Le, M.A.

International Project Manager
Tel+49 291 9929-107
Fax+49 291 7691

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