Right now is all about the empowered employee. Study after study has indicated that employees and customers, armed with access to smart technologies, are driving innovations within their organizations. And while, that is true for many, there are still employees who aren’t interested in implementing new technologies, let alone learning new skills.
Recently, a television producer, with whom I sat on a panel addressing different media, said that though she understood the ways that social media were being used, she hoped to never have to learn those skills. As a social media strategist working with independent schools, non-profits, and small businesses, comments like this are not uncommon. But they still drive my crazy.
I am sure these types of comments were made no matter the innovative technology, from electricity to computers and everything in between. But I am also sure that they drove even Benjamin Franklin mad.
There is so much to insinuate from a person who blatantly and proudly declares that they hope never to advance their personal or professional skill set. And yet, somehow we are just supposed to placate and support them.
When such comments come from educators, it’s even more disturbing. After all, the same is probably said about algebra or Latin, but still those skills are still learned by students, despite protests. So how do we make it so new technologies, especially those associated with social and new media, are considered to be worth learning, no matter your age, job or disposition?
Solve Problems & Save Time
According to Martin Binks, professor of entrepreneurial development and director of the Institute for Enterprise and Innovation at University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI), innovation isn’t just a great idea, it’s a “process that starts with the identification of a problem or opportunity and extends all the way through to the new innovation being implemented.”
The best way for social media and other innovative technologies to gain acceptance is to demonstrate their ability to solve problems. Everybody has problems and love when they can be solved efficiently. While some of us are excited about the potential that new technologies hold, we may have oversold the affordability of web technologies. It is neither easy nor free to incorporate new technologies into an already established routine. Change takes time and money to implement effectively. By outlining the time and money saved, it may make accepting social media less burdensome.
I imagine that people who lament learning new skills are in fact, afraid of having to confront something unfamiliar. Yet, ironically, teachers must help their students overcome the same obstacles each day. Those of us in charge of marketing social media and other web technologies must appeal to hearts and minds. Social media may not seem scary to us, but to those with well-defined comfort zones, these types of skills fall well outside. By tailoring our pitch appropriately, social media becomes less about creating connections with the world, and more about simplifying workflows and improving productivity.
Be the Change You Want to See
There are many ways to help employees to embrace new technologies, from mandating its use to offering incentives, but above all, the most important thing schools and businesses can do is mean what they say. You can’t expect to have employees buy into new media if everyone isn’t on board. It’s cliché, but you have to be the change you want to see. If everyone isn’t modeling new behaviors for others, there really isn’t any reason to learn new skills.
Educators know better than anyone that learning doesn’t happen overnight. Though ignorant comments about technologies close to our heart may hurt, we have to remember that bullying or coercing others to adapt doesn’t work, nor does it reflect kindly on us. Instead of becoming martyrs for our cause, we should take the time to listen and refine our approach, while improving technologies as appropriate.