By Simon North
In my era, we learned how to use a slide rule. We were the last cohort going through school that used this tool. We were also the first to use calculators.
Math tests were fun. We were able to use these different tools. Nobody imposed their views on what you should use. We used what worked for you. Underpinning this though is our mental ability — in this case numeracy.
So what’s going on here? When it comes to everyday tools, we are a child of our times and later, when we become adults, we are obviously comfortable with what we know. Whilst technology changes and it continues to change at an incredible pace, our brainpower is on a much more equal level.
Another thing that defines our time is the ways that work — the ways that we have been trained to be the competent professional that we have become.
So where does the responsibility for tools in the workplace lie? There are two places. First, every individual has a responsibility for their capabilities. That includes keeping themselves sharp and also keeping the systems and processes — and tools — that make them effective.
Second, the employer does have a responsibility also. For any organization to maximize its efficiency, it must give its employees the appropriate tools. Should it do so, it also has a responsibility to train its people in how to use them. There’s nothing as wasteful as providing tools to people who will never use them.
Effectiveness is based on working smartly. That means each individual being given the right conditions and tools that will enable them to be good at their job. Using the best tools will be a mix of what they grew up with plus what they have been given and trained to use subsequently.
Younger employees may get frustrated that the best tools are not available. They rightly expect that the tools that they use at home should be available to them at work. Inevitably there will be a time lag but the technology will usually be adopted. Just because they demand these tools does not make them appropriate for everyone.
Simon North is Founder of Position Ignition, a career consulting company in the UK and co-author of their e-book 135 Networking Tips. North co-founded Position Ignition.com to provide career consulting to people looking for guidance and support through their career change, new career direction, job search and career development.