Do you hate when Apple or Microsoft releases a new operating system or you’re forced to learn how to use the latest new smart phone? It’s basically starting all over to learn how to do the same thing; just in a different way. It can be pretty frustrating.
“I just want to make a stupid phone call!”-says a senior manager.
I just recently gave a management seminar to a mix of junior and senior managers about adopting new technologies. It was very enlightening to me, because there was a stark divide between some of the younger mangers and the older managers and how they perceive new tech. The young managers couldn’t wait to get rid of outdated technologies and the older mangers hated learning another new fancy technology; whether it be another new operating system, another new software version, or the latest trending gadget. In general, the senior manager had a disdain for new tech and the junior managers were pretty indifferent. It seems to be the age old battle between older and younger generations. Seniors detest change while juniors welcome it.
The issue isn’t necessarily with change. It’s memory. In particular, the memory of the challenges that come with change. You see, over time we develop a lifetime of memories. The strongest memories are the most lasting and most often they’re the most painful ones. It’s evolutionary survival 101.
If challenge and pain are synonymous, then time will enhance the memories, therefore increasing the association of challenges with pain. We all have grown to hate pain. However, repeating a process in order to learn is critical for mastery. You see, veterans don’t detest change, its the painful process of change that it accompanies.
Have you ever wondered why the youth are so daring? Well, they have no basis of comparison to the consequences of the challenges they face. It’s most often their first time. As we get older, we start accumulating knowledge of those consequences. That’s when the knowledgable start analyzing more and taking more risk assessments. Unchecked, this will lead to a paralysis of a senior manager’s growth. Paralysis by analysis in order to avoid pain becomes a huge problem.
So how do the senior managers get around that? Well, the remarkable and unique traits (or skills) of an individual increases with time. The advantage of senior managers is wisdom, or perspective. Younger and less knowledgeable managers are at a disadvantage. However, they are much more bold and daring enough to take on the task to accumulate that knowledge. This is where a unique teamwork strategy comes in to play.
I always recommend that senior managers NOT learn new tech, but to allow younger mangers or directs to adopt the new tech. They’ll work out the bugs and then work with more senior mangers on how it’s implemented. This will result in a higher chance of reaching project goals and timelines.
Senior mangers have the unique perspective of being able to see what and where their time and effort is most useful. If you don’t have time or energy to figure out a new tech, there’s always a younger direct or manger willing to take on the task. This will give juniors an opportunity to learn and to grow while increasing time efficiency for seniors.
The one thing that needs to be clear is the goal that a new tech should be addressing. Is the new tech suppose to increase productivity through time, money or effort?
So how does this apply to new junior investigators? Well, I’ll discuss that next week in my next blog…