5 characteristics of a Super User | Sekoia

Aces in Places: 5 characteristics of a Super User


Managing a change

Changing the way things are being done is not something that can just be done by the flick of a switch. Our way of doing things is deeply entrenched in our habits. These set routines also carry over to our work. And if managers or directors want to change the routines, they usually just send out an e-mail describing the new change. So, does the change take effect just because of that e-mail?

No, it’s not enough to manage change from a top-down perspective. You need to have the people on board and get their buy-in. Here, the purpose of identifying and educating super users becomes clear. The typical super user’s role and responsibilities revolve around championing the change at a user-level.

In Sekoia, we regularly help guide organisations from paper or admin-centric systems to a digital solution at the point of care – essentially a profound change in the way staff are used to working. Here, we’ve found the benefits of super users to be invaluable.

First of All, What’s the Definition of a Super User?

The term super user, or superuser, is a widely accepted concept within the world of IT. But what about super users in healthcare and nursing? Can, and more importantly, should that really be a thing?

The key quality of a super user is to act as a change agent, so we are strong proponents of using super users if you are going to make fundamental changes to the known way of working.

In essence, a super user is a person who is your internal expert on a system. They’ll be able to answer minor questions about the system, which in turn makes you more efficient since you don’t have to wait around for the supplier to respond to your questions. Further, the super users will usually be more enthusiastic about the system than regular users, which will help with getting everyone on the same page regarding the new system. Additionally, super users usually have more system rights. In a digital care planning solution like Sekoia, that could mean that only super users can add residents, while all members of staff can add an ad-hoc task.

Who can become a super user?

Judging from the way we talk about super users; it might seem like a superhero-like employee who swoops in to save the day whenever there’s trouble. An ideal and not a reflection of reality.

However, in our humble opinion, most people can be like a superhero. We’ve identified the qualities we feel is needed in a super user. And it’s got nothing to do with having superpowers!

A dive into the Super User gene pool

Super Users are not necessarily technology experts, instead, they are open-minded and ready to take on responsibility for communicating with and assisting co-workers, so everybody knows why and how things are done. The Super Users are the frontrunners. The pioneers, who can lead by example, so they encourage colleagues to participate enthusiastically, and their entire organisation adapts to the change together. Super Users and management go hand in hand when it comes to leading the change. They plant the seed, organically grow this and keep motivating peers by sharing “how and why to…” information. This kind of bottom-up approach helps reduce uncertainty arising during implementation and in the initial phase of operating the new technology, before settling into a more natural state of use. This adoption is the goal of identifying Super Users and getting on board with the new technology.

Aces in Places: 5 Characteristics of a Super User

“Aces in places” is about finding out what people are good at and then letting them do more of this, while indirectly showing their colleagues how best practice is inculcated. To develop this way of doing things requires a bit more structure but it is worth the effort. Super Users are:

  1. Open-minded and ready for change
  2. Responsible and willing to lose face (never faith)
  3. Positive social capital ➝ glass half full kind of person
  4. Patient with others, eager to learn
  5. Confident early adopter (not necessarily IT experts)
  6. Remember to include staff with different professions and from all shift layers

Motivation as the primary change catalyst

By including your care staff in the journey towards paperless goals, you are strengthening the understanding of “why” the organisation is changing, and some of the staffs’ tasks with it. Everyone must understand how this new technology is going to simplify their work and solve important business or resident challenges.

In the selection phase, it’s important to trust your staff. When you read the characteristics of a super user some people may have immediately sprung to mind. However, it’s important to make sure that it’s not just the “usual suspects” who get the extra responsibilities. Other employees might blossom when allowed to drive a new change – even if they didn’t know they wanted to be a super user. That’s also why it’s not necessarily a bad thing if no one volunteers in the first place. Some superusers will fly and some will not be suitable – and that’s okay. It’s all part of the change process.

How to Train Super Users

Obviously, the extensiveness of a super user training program depends on what system you are going to train them in. If it is an intuitive system, it would require less time to get familiar with compared to a more convoluted one – seems fairly straightforward. Below we’ve listed our top 3 tips to become a super user:

  • Allow time and space for the new super users to get acquainted with the system
  • Make the super users work in the “real” system outside the demo environment as quickly as possible to establish a sense of ownership
  • Go live with the system relatively soon after having super user sessions

You need peace and quiet away from the daily tasks so you can immerse yourself into learning the product. Further, you need to throw the super users into the deep end. Meaning you can’t have them use the system in a test environment where there are no consequences. You need to have them use the system in a real-life context – when the stakes actually matter the super users are more likely to claim ownership of the product. Finally, you should harvest the fruits of the super user training program as soon as possible. It’s no use having staff spend a lot of time learning the ins and outs of a system, just for them to forget the intricacies of it because the Go Live date is months away.

Looking back at the characteristics of a super user, it’s evident that the traits are not what you can classify as “hard-skills”. Even though you might expect the experts of a digital system to be good with tech, we’ve found it to be much more important to have good “soft skills” such as a positive attitude, patience, and an eagerness to learn new things.