Upgrades & Downgrades: Adapting to Changing Technology

An organization I know of is about to make a big change. It isn’t a staffing change, a location change, or a change in their business philosophy, but nonetheless it is making waves throughout the workplace. The organization is changing their database software.

Change is hard for anyone at any organization but people seem to get particularly riled up about even relatively minor technological changes. The pace of technology is extremely rapid in today’s workplace. In a generation we have gone from typewriters to voice recognition software and from simple balance sheets to bookkeeping software that performs complex financial modeling for the smallest business.

As a whole, the workforce has adapted capably to this new world order. It feels like sometimes, however, we simply can’t take another change. I’ve witnessed widespread revolt when an office web security system started requiring employees to go through another step in their log in process and the aforementioned database change actually reduced at least one employee to tears.

Part of the reason for resistance to change is simply the disruption to routine. People generally thrive on the routine and predictable. We develop efficient ways to get our work done using the systems that we know. When those systems change, we need to change our routines accordingly and, for at least a while, this doesn’t seem nearly as efficient as what we were doing before.

In addition, the other side of our adaptability to technology means that when a new piece of technology comes around we work hard to learn its ins and outs and master it. Even the most despised piece of software tends to have at least a few people who have taken ownership for it in our office. When it is replaced, even for something objectively better, the people who invested time and energy into mastering it can feel like their work was pointless or unappreciated.

As a manger, you need to keep all of these feelings in mind when introducing a new piece of technology to the office. While it may make for a more efficient, happier workplace in the long run, it is not realistic to expect an immediate and seamless conversion by your employees. Acknowledging that and working together as a group to adapt will go a long way toward making your new initiative a success. You will find yourself with a more resilient workgroup, ready to address the inevitable challenges coming its way.

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