Tips for Learning a New System at Work

A Japanese hotel made the news recently when it laid off its robot workforce and replaced its machines with people. Score one for humans.

Still, automation affects jobs every day. Employees who can learn how to adapt to change at work when new systems arrive are the ones who will be most successful in their careers.

That’s especially true in environments where robotic tools and people collaborate. A January 2019 report by Manpower found that 87 percent of employer respondents plan to increase or maintain their worker numbers as a result of automation.

[See: How to Change Careers Successfully.]

Smart employers provide opportunities for their employees to learn new technology when rolling out a productivity or communication app. But there are a lot of things you can do right now to adapt to change at work. Remember, the only constant is change. So, don’t panic. Instead, learn how to greet change with excitement and an open mind.

Here are some tips to help you practice flexibility in the workplace, expand your job skills and be more comfortable adapting to change on the job — whether that’s a new piece of software or a new way of getting things done.

To adapt to change at work:

— Follow and stay on top of trends in your industry.

— Learn at work.

— Schedule time for learning.

— Remember life-long learning applies to everyone.

— Be prepared for new HR tech in your job search.

— Try out situational learning.

Follow and stay on top of trends in your industry.

References are often asked whether a job candidate keeps up with industry trends and related tools and technologies. Make it a habit to check out trade news and websites to understand what’s going on in your industry or your area of expertise.

“Collaboration” is the current watchword. So follow the conversations about new tools that help teams work better together. GoToMeeting and Webex are ubiquitous, but other tools like Skype and Slack are gaining market share, particularly among startups. Learn what tools the people in your field have already adopted, because they may be coming your way. Avoiding common pitfalls and understanding how others deal with these new tools will give you an edge, no matter what technologies are introduced.

[Read: What to Know When Your Salary Includes Stocks.]

Learn at work.

Reach out to others in your workplace and ask them for some time to help you review processes or learn how your departments and systems interact. For example, if your marketing team uses Asana to organize team projects and you’re a little lost, ask someone for help. If there isn’t time during the workday (shame on your manager), ask a colleague to connect over lunch or for coffee.

Most people will be flattered that you’re asking them to mentor you. Not only will you improve your visibility in the workplace — which could lead to new opportunities — you’ll also expand your network, and those individuals you meet are likely to become good job references for you in the future.

Schedule time for learning.

You schedule fitness workouts into your week, right? Why not schedule 15 or 30 minutes three times a week to catch up on industry trends or learn about new technologies, tools or systems?

And while we’re on the subject of self-improvement, be sure to explore learning opportunities that might be available to you, either in your community or online. You can find dozens of relatively inexpensive courses online at Udemy, Coursera, edX and LinkedIn Learning, which has thousands of digital courses taught by industry experts. You can also find free opportunities to learn at work by signing up for webinars offered by technology vendors. Or visit your local Apple, Microsoft, mobile service or tech retailer in person — they often offer free courses to help customers learn their technologies.

Remember life-long learning applies to everyone.

A recent opinion piece in the Financial Times asserted that educated workers more than three times as likely to participate in training as adults than workers without qualifications. Unfortunately, learning has often been a bit like inherited wealth: reserved for a few lucky people.

[See: Career Advice for Military Spouses and Other Accompanying Partners.]

But that’s changing, and learning is happening everywhere. If you take advantage of available education resources, no matter what your job role, opportunities at work will multiply. And, should you need to make a career change, you will be better positioned to take a risk if you continue to expand your skills and knowledge.

Be prepared for new HR tech in your job search.

The next time you submit an online application for a job, the first contact you receive might be a text message from an HR chatbot that can schedule an appointment, ask for basic information and even respond to your hiring or workplace questions. Organizations are turning to video interviews, online reference checking, web-based skill tests and virtual reality games before scheduling in-person interviews.

Try out situational learning.

Finally, try out situational learning. Let’s just call it what it is: jumping into the deep end of the pool. It’s a great way to up your game. Whatever your skill level, volunteer for something that challenges you to learn something new. And be sure to ask for feedback.

Start at home and experience your growing pains without any prying eyes. If you’re not a tech-savvy person, challenge yourself to pair your phone with your vehicle’s Bluetooth system. Or install a new app on your mobile device and take it for a spin. There are many personal chat, video and other communications tools that are free to download. You can practice using them (and have some fun) by connecting with family and friends.

Living is all about learning. It’s probably the most important skill you can hone for a long and rewarding career. When you stretch yourself, you often discover something new about your capabilities and who you are. It opens up new possibilities in your life and in your work. That is a journey well worth taking.

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