Are older workers resistant to using technology tools to do their jobs? Do they not want to learn something new? Is the adage about old dogs and new tricks true?
It’s easy to blame older workers’ unwillingness to learn new things when they don’t use the technology you invested in, but that may not be the cause of the problem. Make sure they’ve been effectively trained, know why the new approach is needed and how they will personally benefit from using the new tool. This is true for everyone, not just your older workers.
Consider this about Baby Boomers: They are the second largest group of bloggers (after moms). Two out of three of them take photos with their cell phones. Sixty percent of them text. They’ve invaded Facebook, Twitter, Skype and YouTube. It’s not that they can’t learn how to do things on the computer. The work place problem could stem from ineffective instruction, poor communication about the relevant goals, and/or the failure to tie the change to personal effectiveness.
Consider these things when trying to teach new technology to employees, regardless of their age:
Are you using the right instructor?
When there is a failure to learn, look at the quality of the teacher. Most often, IT resources are the ones who design and offer the training needed to learn new hardware and software applications. Unless your company is remarkably unique, these people are probably not even speaking the same language as some of your workers. Those who are comfortable with computers tend to rattle off jargon and terms in quick succession, “demonstrate” with a series of rapid key strokes, and assume everybody gets it. That is not teaching. It’s geeks sharing with geeks. If you’re not a geek, you have no idea what just happened.
Those who didn’t use computers during their formative years may need a different training approach than those who did. Offer the class in a way they can understand. You need a trainer who understands that students learn in different ways and who creates examples, analogies, and practice exercises that are class specific.
Clearly explain the reason for the change
Don’t jump into implementation without effectively explaining why it’s needed to those who have to live with it. Talk about why the company needs this change, how important it is for everyone to make the change, and what you are doing to help people understand and use the new technology so employees don’t make wrong assumptions. Make these employees partners and they are more likely to step up to the challenge. (Conversely, “do it because I said so” stops working with most people before they are out of elementary school.) Debunk the falsehoods coming out of the rumor mill at the same time. And do all of this before training so they are ready to learn.
Tie the change to improved personal effectiveness
There’s an old saying in training: “They gotta wanna.” The first piece of any successful training effort-is helping trainees see the value of performing differently themselves. This isn’t a case of telling someone to learn it “or else.” And it’s not usually a case of “you can make more money if you learn this.”
When you need employees to learn new technology, focus on the fact that their contribution is valuable and needs to be fully integrated with what the rest of the company is doing. Virtually every tech improvement is meant to achieve better integration in some way.
Most people want to be good at what they do. Helping them understand that their work becomes more valuable if they use the new system increases the value of the change in personal terms.
For more about training and other human resources help, contact the experts at BCN Services by calling 1-800-891-9911 or contact us here.
Sue Kester, HR Manager