Building confidence with advanced new tech for employees, teams, and companies
Recent developments — ChatGPT, Bard, Midjourney, DALL-E, and even Apple Vision Pro — have come faster and harder than any others before. Some professionals may struggle to wrap their minds around another product of progress, much less speak confidently about them.
The truth is that even workers who grew up as digital natives can feel overwhelmed by today’s pace. Even if they can competently use the technology, they may struggle to talk about it — and that’s a critical part of building innovative strategies and advancing their careers.
In this piece, we’ll guide individuals, team managers, and company leaders through building confidence around today’s tech developments. Because when employees can speak confidently about their technology, they can engage in the workplace confidently, making innovative strategies and forward-looking plans.
Strategies for individuals to build confidence with tech
Here are four strategies for getting there if you want to use technology more confidently or speak about new applications with more authority.
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Read two or three books annually about the technology relevant to your field.
We are all overloaded with information with social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and constant content generation. The trouble is that much of this information is valuable to our industries, and you may feel you will never catch up. Instead of trying to read everything, focus on just a few relevant books.
And yes, we recommend focusing on books specifically — not newsletters, articles, or podcasts — because they give you deeper, relevant context than those short-form media can cover. Knowing this background, at least for one or two topics, can build your confidence.
Discuss trending topics with coworkers.
You and your colleagues are all living through the same technological developments — but in all likelihood, you’re learning about new things in your own personal, specific contexts. For example, a content marketing director may learn about generative AI as they plan the quarterly content calendar and forecast their hiring needs. Outside of work, a colleague passionate about rescuing greyhounds, for example, might be gaining mastery of Midjourney as they share their cause. Discussing trending topics can uncover the expertise you are collectively building so that you can each keep growing in your career journeys.
Set achievable learning goals.
Your job may require you to learn about new technology and incorporate it into your skillset. If this is your workplace, aim to set goals you can achieve. For example, an engineer can decide to learn one new system a year. Mastering one is likely more valuable than having basic knowledge of every new design. A bonus: You can become an in-house expert and receive even more opportunities to deepen your expertise.
Make the most of in-house learning opportunities.
This tactic depends on your employer (and it also may feel obvious), but many workplaces offer workshops and expert interviews related to new developments in your field. In the daily grind, breaking out of your usual routine can be hard, especially when deadlines are looming. But, whenever possible, take advantage of these chances to listen to the language these experts are using and to practice these skills in a relatively low-pressure environment. Outside of work, you would likely have to pay for this training; make the most of these free options while they’re available to you.
Strategies for team leaders to encourage confidence with tech
When your employees feel confident, whether talking about tech or using it, they can perform at their best. Below, find three tactics for building them up.
Aim to create a curious, accepting, and collaborative learning environment.
As a people manager, you set the tone for how your team engages with new technology — and you want to select one that encourages learning and making mistakes. If you can create this environment, your team members won’t feel like they have to learn new technology for progress’s sake; instead, they will see mastering new tech as knowing the tools needed to complete the task, as Entrepreneur puts it in a 2017 article on digital transformation.
Coach your employees to learn new skills when applicable — no sooner.
We are all getting career input from every direction: our LinkedIn newsfeed, email inbox, friends in other fields, recommended podcasts, YouTube videos served by an algorithm. Your employees may feel flooded with new tools, skills, topics, and processes to master. As a manager, you can help them cut this flood into bite-size pieces. Coach them in learning things only as the skill or topic becomes applicable. There’s no need to master something trending if the utility isn’t straightforward yet for their specific roles.
Encourage engaging with your industry.
Depending on your workplace, you may feel as if your work is all-hands-on-deck all the time. But ensuring your employees have the time, space, and funding to explore what’s happening in the field is critical for ensuring your company remains innovative. If you can, encourage and fund them to attend conferences, even ones that seem less relevant to their daily work. Also, make sure they follow industry publications, and when possible, try to hold mini-conversations about something new in the field.
Strategies for company leaders to facilitate confidence with tech
If you have leverage over how technology is introduced at your company, aim to do so in a way that facilitates competence, not fear. Here are four strategies inspired by Microsoft’s own step-by-step approach to helping employees adopt new technology so that they can speak and strategize confidently.
Establish a “lighthouse team”
Your employees may have more expertise or minor curiosity than you realize. Have your people managers identify people who enjoy playing with new tech, or you can have people identify themselves. Form a lighthouse team, a network of employees who will battle-test new applications, tools, and programs for the rest of the company. Ensure these employees are ones whose work could benefit from the technology and, therefore, can act as a case study — and inspiration — to other teams.
Give this team adequate training
Your lighthouse team is probably enthusiastic about new tech. However, the company should still provide training to help them understand the value of the latest technology that could be introduced and know how to apply it in their functions.
Create a feedback loop
Give the lighthouse team time to play with the technology and learn how it works. Then Microsoft suggests setting up a feedback loop for these workers to share their thoughts. What do they enjoy about the tool? What do they dislike? What recommendations do they have for implementing this tech at your company? Their experiences can be a reference point that encourages the rest of your company to give it a try, too.
Facilitate continuous knowledge exchange
Building continuous education programs can ensure that employees will adopt the technology you invest in. For example, you can create a mentorship program in which lighthouse team members or individuals with tech fluency can partner one-on-one with individuals who may need more support. This option is affordable and doubles as a leadership opportunity for the teachers.
Check out Sendbird’s education resources
At Sendbird, we create free daily resources to help you and your employees get value from new tech hitting the market.