Trying to incorporate a new piece of technology in your business can be challenging. No one likes struggling with new software or learning some unfamiliar gadget’s operating system.
Be honest: when you switched to a new smartphone, did you jump for joy with the thought of having to master yet another strange cyber-world? If you said yes, you’re in the minority.Adding to the frustration is a frequently recurring problem: timing. A friend of mine was telling me about the chaos that ensued when her employers decided to change a piece of medical computer equipment on short notice.
Not only did productivity go down, tempers went up.So how can you avoid this mistake? Is there a way that you can work with the technology learning curve instead of against it?
Yes, there is. It’s called planning.
5 Tips for Working With a New Technology Learning Curve
The key to getting your team to master a new technology is planning — in five different ways.
Opt for the incremental transition.Unless you absolutely have to replace your system all at once, give your team members time to get used to it. Let them learn it gradually. If you’re not sure why allowing time to master something is a good idea, re-read the paragraph above about the medical equipment.
Have a clearly defined goal and set of procedures. Telling your crew “Learn to use such and such a program” is not a clearly defined goal. Instead, give them small and specific procedures to master. For example: learn to update a record; learn to add a new customer; learn to print out a report; etc.
Short and sweet is better than long and boring. In a perfect world, you could hire an expert to come in once a week for however long it took for your team to learn a program. Realistically, few of us have the budget or the time for that. What you can do is schedule short practice sessions. A few 20- or 30-minute sessions interspersed throughout the week will be a lot more effective than a two-hour marathon on Friday evening.
Have a go-to guy or gal. Chances are there is at least one person in your office who is good at learning new programs and imparting this knowledge to others. Make this person the point man or woman for the technology. Give them extra (paid) time to familiarize themselves with it. Then make them your in-house troubleshooting guru.
Give people the tools they need to succeed. When was the last time you forgot a PIN number or something equally important? Exactly. You don’t have a perfect memory. Neither do your employees. To help things along, provide them with easy-to-understand software manuals or (at the very least) a cheat sheet that contains step-by-step instructions for common procedures.
You may have noticed that applying these tips will require time. But this investment of time will make the transition from old technology to new technology less intimidating. And it will keep your workers more effective and less irritable. All of which is a very good idea.