Do you know the one factor concerning your team’s implementation of tech tools? It’s the boss — you. Put simply, if you’re the boss and use technology regularly, your people implement it into their workplace toolkit. If you find excuses to avoid using the technology, your people will follow suit.

Recently, I was consulting for a remote organization, and a manager and I were discussing his team’s resistance to use Skype for Business more efficiently, and more often.

Frustrated with their disregard for the productivity web tool, he exclaimed, “They should be using webcams and whiteboards, but they just don’t. We’re wasting money!”

I then asked if he used the technology during team meetings. He replied, “I keep meaning to get a webcam but I’m too busy. I just use the phone.”  (Somehow, I managed not to burst into tears.)

Teams take their cues on what is important and how they’re expected to act from their leaders. If the manager thinks SharePoint is too complicated to learn, but expects the team to use it on a regular basis, she’s likely to be disappointed.

If you are the team lead or manager, here are some things you need to know:

  • Your team takes its cues from you. If you want people to start using webcams (for example), you need to lead the way. Make the tool an expectation of the job.
  • Just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. It might seem easier and faster to attach a document to an email than send a SharePoint link, but if you want people to start using SharePoint, stop giving them a reason not to use it.
  • Don’t be afraid to look foolish. Many managers are older and less tech-savvy than their teams. They might fear looking silly or incompetent. Your people won’t lose respect for you if you stumble, they’ll lose respect for you if give up while holding them accountable for something you couldn’t do yourself.
  • You don’t have to be a power user; just a user. Genghis Khan wasn’t necessarily the best rider or swordsman in the Golden Horde, but he could ride and fight, and was a credible leader as a result.
  • Take training along with your team. You’ll not only look more credible in their eyes, you may uncover problems or challenges that you can coach to or mitigate before they become huge barriers to success.
  • Misery loves company. When team members can see that other people (especially those who are better paid and could avoid the pain without being punished) are going through a learning curve, they are more likely to hang in there themselves.
  • You might develop some empathy for your team members. How is that a bad thing?

Power has its privileges, but if you’re using your authority to avoid having to learn technology or use a process like the rest of your team, you may be causing more trouble than you avoid.

Wayne TurmelWayne Turmel is the founder and president of For 20 years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including: Meet Like You Mean It- a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Marshall Goldsmith calls him “one of the unique voices to listen to in the virtual workplace”. He works with organizations around the world to help people use technology to lead people and projects and build productive human connections in an increasingly remote work environment.

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