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Going Digital: 6 Ways to Combat the Fear of Technology

Written by Leigh Fowler on January 08, 2013


Is your team afraid of moving forward with their web content? Fear can go a long way in paralyzing individuals from action and it's especially bad if you have a launch ahead of you. Learn to identify fear and then work with your team to combat it.

Fear of technology is a worst-case scenario – because all around us, people are accepting technology and moving forward with their products – but despite this, there are still groups that will resist it, fight it and ridicule it. This can be frustrating. Knowing what you're dealing with however can be the key to a successful transition.

The first step in dealing with the fear of technology is to actually identify it.

This situation is when two groups have clearly drawn lines – one is for change – to move forward with web. The others see the transition of going digital as a waste of time, they will make fun of your efforts and do everything they can to prevent it from happening. You may present every case for moving forward but still, they resist the change – they resist you – and they continue to resist the technology. It's not personal however and it won't come across as fear at first because you may see it as being stubborn or you may even assume that it's stupidity at its best.

So what do you do? How do you get "them" to see the light? Well - the answer is to combat fear with knowledge and a little patience, instead of frustration. People often fear what they do not know. So teach them.

Have Patience

It may have taken you a week or two (or in my case, years!) to identify fear as the culprit behind your team's resistance towards developing their online strategy but now you know what you're dealing with. Work with it. Be patient.

Communication Strategy

Figure out who knows what, and how much they know, about the web. You don't want people to get lost in the language, and miss your ideas – so make sure all team members are clear on the terms and concepts that you're presenting.  You don't want to single anyone out - no one likes to feel stupid – but your communication must speak to the person with the least experience or understanding of the web. Sometimes we can be using the same word but have a different understanding of its meaning or function, especially when it comes to technology. This can cause confusion or arguments to erupt.

There are many ways to avoid this type of miscommunication. For example, you could use print metaphors for web, show visual examples, provide glossaries, email links to humorous YouTube videos with quick summaries about basic web scenarios, and continually define the key terminology (both verbally and in writing) that they need to understand the project.

If you're not getting through to one or two people in particular, try changing your presentation style to address different learning styles that they may have. Think about some of these styles – visual, physical, logical, social, solitary, verbal and aural – and present with them in mind. These learning styles can also be described as spatial, kinesthetic, mathematical, interpersonal, interpersonal, linguistic and auditory-musical.

Use Case Studies

Pick out three of your top competitors – chances are, they already have an online strategy that you'd like to match or exceed. Explain why their strategy is working or not working – how you could do it better – or at least get your team to that status in their digital strategy. Share with them the online tools available, not only to help them with their new web duties, but to also assist their print efforts as well. Show them other top examples of web content – in any industry – for competitive analysis and further discussion.

Team Learning

There are many ways to do this but I recommend both internal and external learning environments. It's important for your team to interact with other companies who are trying to achieve the same thing. Conferences are a good start, especially if the team goes together. Organize internal group "lunch n' learn" sessions where the team watches webinars on a related topic or digital trend. Distribute white papers you feel may be useful.

Vendor Research & Meetings

Vendors are used to selling their ideas so use them to conduct not only your research, but validate your points to your team. These vendors have worked with other companies and helped them transition with their products - use their experience to highlight to the team what's involved, timelines, obstacles and money.

Address Other Fears

I think one of the main fears of accepting technology for any team is the fear that their current jobs will become non-existent. It's worth considering this during all of your presentations. People might be seriously worried that once the technology is implemented, their jobs will be eliminated. With print teams however, usually this means that their job description will expand to include new skills that they must now learn. Keep in mind however that learning can be easier if you're a kid, but the process of learning as an adult has all sorts of barriers ego, time, fear, money, etc. So it's not easy for everyone to just pick up and learn a new skill.

It's important to talk about the post-launch schedule and what that means for teams and their roles within the company structure. Address their fears in your presentations. Will they still have their jobs? Will their jobs change? How will their jobs change? What skills do they need to make the change? What kind of training can you offer them? What kind of security can you give them? Can you show them examples of the transition and how this has been accomplished in other companies?

The Battle

Chipping away at the fear of technology by providing knowledge is the best way to combat it. Switch up your communication style, provide teams with the tools to learn, bring experts into your corner and consider external factors when working with your group towards change. Most of all be patient, not frustrated, and you will get your team closer to developing their digital strategies.

What have you done to combat the fear of technology lately?


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