How to Train Your Employees on New Technology

Start with a cliché: “The only people who like change are babies.” Second cliché: “Business is like a shark—it will die if it does not keep moving.” The thing that makes a cliché a thing that is oft repeated is that it is based on truth. Generally speaking, people don’t like to change. If you have technology that you and your company have used for 10 years, you know that there have been improvements. Somewhere out there is technology that if you don’t take advantage of it, your competitors will and they will have an advantage.

The thing is, that people won’t like change. And a change in technology will almost certainly increase the phobia people have regarding change. Often, even people who are not comfortable with technology in other parts of their lives can learn how to use technology at work, but asking them to learn something different can create fear that is real.

How to Make It Easier to Transition to New Technology

1. Make it Easy to Learn

One of the first steps in transitioning from one kind of technology to another, as recommended in Forbe’s magazine is to choose products that are intuitive to use. Are there choices at the top of the screen that make sense? Are the instructions to get started short and easy to understand? If the answer is no to either of those questions, you are likely to face some pushback in the transition process. You want tech that people may be slow when they first use it (or not, if you’re lucky), but they can transition through it without reading the manual cover to cover.

2. Implement Training

One of the first things to do when you have chosen the new technology is make certain people are trained in its use. Understand that when you transition from one technological tool to another, some productivity will likely be lost. You’re changing from comfortable loafers you’ve worn for years to new shoes. There are going to be blisters.

Spend some time training—and how much training and how effective it is should be a part of how you determine if you want to purchase certain technology. The better the training, the more user friendly the tech will prove to be, and the faster people can get past the newness.

Training does not have to mean you need to give up a day of work to go over everything. Training can be spending the last hour of a workday learning how to use something new. Training can be sending work home with people—depending on the intuitiveness of the new tech. Another part of the training package is the tech support that goes with the new technology. Is someone available to help employees, IT staff, and management learn how to make it through a roadblock? If only certain people can call with problems; if they have a limited number of calls or minutes they can spend, then ask if the new tech will really be easy to transition to.

3. Decide: How Important are Bells and Whistles?

There is a belief that with technology 20% of the features and tools that are part of the software that you acquire will get 80% of the work done. The other 20% of the work is important, and it has to be done, but if it is difficult to do that first 80% of the job the tech may not really be a good fit. It makes more sense if the first 80% of the work you get done is the easiest and most intuitive. Then, if the last 20% is more involved to finish, that is all right.

Getting the first 80% of the job done should be the focus. Sometimes people, especially people comfortable with technology, get lost in the fancy stuff, the bells and whistles, when the person who will rely on the software every day does not care about the bells and whistles.

4. Make People Understand that the Transition is Important

You have to stress that using new technology is important to the organization. You have to stress that you are not the guinea pigs—other people have used this technology and found it to be useful. You have to have your management team use the new technology if it is appropriate. Commend people for their efforts to try the new technology. All of these things are important in supporting the switch.

Prior to making the switch, have trusted people who tend to be enthusiastic about new technology try it out. These people provide two important things: 1. They help find trouble spots and can demonstrate that the new technology works, 2. They can be troubleshooters when others dive in. Both can be very important in getting buy in and maintaining and improving productivity.

The only thing worse than requiring institutional changes in technology is making no change at all because it is hard. Of course it is hard. Most things worth doing and providing good results are hard at first. Take the time the vet your choices, then slowly but firmly implement the change. Your organization will be better off for the trouble.

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