As a teacher for over three decades, my mother has dealt with a very demanding group of people i.e. primary school students. This equipped her with immense patience and agility. 

So, imagine my surprise when I see her feeling tested by Zoom, a simple video conferencing app, and also trying to resist it. But this isn’t peculiar to her. We have all been frustrated or observed others struggling to embrace new technology, especially at the workplace.

No wonder so many businesses struggle with technology adoption. Even seemingly routine and simple ones like customer relationships management or learning management software have dismal adoption rates. 

So, what causes this inertia to new technology?

While this may depend to a great degree on the nature and personality of an organization, there are some common culprits across the board:

  1. Picking the wrong technology: Managers often end up going for the most sophisticated technology, without accounting for their team’s interest and goals. You must always go for something that is approachable and intuitive. Give your team something with a 200-page manual and you’ve killed your digitization initiative before it even began.
  2. Not highlighting the benefits: Let’s face it, technology adoption is extra work. It will mean added time and effort for your employees. So, tell them how it’s going to make their lives easier or better. For instance, maybe the new communication system will increase productivity and reduce the workload on weekends.
  3. Failing to integrate it with existing routines: You need to weave new technology into the everyday routines and systems of your teams. It cannot be a standalone initiative; you must institutionalize it and show the new way of working at the organization. Obviously, this needs to be done in a planned and considerate manner instead of bulldozing your team.

Many of these challenges need to be dealt with at an organizational level and may require major changes. But even as an individual, a manager, team lead or just someone helping colleagues, there are things to do and keep in mind.

Didier Bonnet, co-author of Leading Digital, a book which guides businesses through digital transformations, said, “The job of a manager is to help people cross the bridge—to get them comfortable with the technology, to get them to using it, and to help them understand how it makes their lives better.”

These three things mentioned by Didier are your guiding principles when helping others adopt technology. And during the process, some of your skills and traits will be put to test; so be prepared on the following fronts:

  • Breaking down and explaining complex technical instruction in the simplest and most effective manner
  • Prioritizing what information to give out. Maybe this is not the time to explain how iOS and Android differ; people can probably manage without that information
  • Keeping your calm and patience as most people will take time to come around
  • Building empathy so that you can put yourself in their shoes and not dismiss doubts or concerns as trivial

My mother is all set to take her first online class this week. We are practicing and troubleshooting every day. Honestly, between my own work and Zoom calls, I struggle to be patient at times. But when I think of a class of hyperactive sixth graders she needs to keep engaged in grammar lessons, I realize how much easier I have it.

Explore topics and skills such as Speaking SkillsOratory SkillsVerbal CommunicationNonverbal Communication, and the Types of Communication from our Harappa Diaries blog section and communicate information effectively.

Saumya Seth is a Specialist in the Curriculum team at Harappa Education. She is a Young India Fellow and an Economics graduate from Lady Shri Ram College. She is also a serial snacker who loves finding better and simpler ways to communicate ideas.

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