Humans have a love-hate relationship with technology. We curse the need to be tethered to email and Slack for work while not being able to avoid our personal screens for more than a few minutes at a time. Everyone complains about the tools they have at their disposal, but shudder at the thought of learning even one more software package or remembering another password. As we dread the latest version of Teams or Slack, it’s helpful to think back a few years…like 40,000.
So easy a caveman can do it?
Cavemen had the same issues, just different technology. Imagine what the clan’s Shaman (a unique role, kind of a combination of HR and IT) must have encountered when trying to get people to adopt the use of fire:
Shaman: Hey, I noticed a tree get hit by lightning the other day and it started a fire. I think we can use that.
Crok: Is this another of your crazy ideas like “clothes”?
Og: No thanks.
Shaman: Why not? You can use it to see in the dark.
Crok: Too bright. It hurts my eyes and I can’t sleep when there’s light. And it’s really hot.
Shaman: But it will keep the saber-tooth tigers away.
Og: And let every other tribe know where we are? Big security issue. No way. Besides, the smoke makes my hair stink.
Crok: And it’s too hard to control. I heard a whole forest caught fire once. I don’t want to risk it.
Shaman: But you can cook food with it. It tastes great.
Og: I like my pterodactyl raw.
Crok: It takes too long and makes it all black and yukky.
Og: My mother never cooked her food and she did just fine. She lived to be 30!
Crok: someone in the next tribe over tried to touch fire and got hurt really badly. Big safety issue there. Why take the chance?
Og: And who has time to sit around waiting for lightning?
Shaman: That’s the cool part. If you take these two rocks and bang them together just right you can start a fire any time you want. On-demand, if you will.
Crok: Oh, so now I have to be a hunter, gatherer, and fire-starter too? You don’t pay me enough.
Why does it take us so long to adopt new tools?
You get the idea. Since Homo Erectus, tool adoption has come slowly, painfully, and imperfectly. But why?
People are often resistant to change. The key is to find out what the objection is. Sometimes the concerns are legitimate, such as network security or infrastructure. Maybe the tool won’t do some of the things they need it to do. Other times people don’t see the need for a change, or imagine the barriers to training, adopting, and making it part of their workflow will cause more inconvenience than it solves.
Understand that it isn’t “technophobia.” People don’t fear technology, for the most part. Our phone addiction is proof of that. What we are is exhausted, overworked, and cranky.
Cut them some slack and be prepared to help them through it. Help them understand the reason for the change, the benefits, and how it will make specific tasks easier. (If it doesn’t, ask why you’re making the change in the first place?) And be patient with Terry in Accounting. Even Crok and Og came around eventually.
And just because it’s a new tool doesn’t mean your team has to have it, especially if you’re not getting the most mileage out of the “old” tools you already have. Maybe they’re not obsolete after all. Find out if you’re maxing out the current communications technology you have with this free assessment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, offers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.