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Coaching Technophobes

The modern world is filled with technology. From our phones, to sat navs, to tablets, and the internet – it’s inescapable. Almost.

For a technophobe, not only is technology eminently escapable – it’s something they completely wish to avoid. This might work fine in their personal lives, but it doesn’t mesh well in the workplace.

Sooner or later, you’re going to have to coach your resident technophobe how to use the technology you’ve invested in. And as anyone who’s tried to coach a technophobe will know, this is easier said than done. Technophobic tendencies often arise from a fear of change and insecurities about looking foolish in front of others.

So in order to coach your technophobic employees successfully, you must approach it from their level. One way to approach it is by age group – after all, each group has experienced technology in very different ways as they grew up.

Get on their level

The research that has been done in the field of generational learning is clear – every generation learns differently. To successfully coach your resident technophobe, you need to identify their generation first and then teach them accordingly.

Identifying their generational profile is easy.

Generation Year of Birth
Baby Boomers Born 1946 – 1964
Generation X Born 1965 – 1980
Millennials Born 1981 – 2000

Once you’ve done this, you can begin to coach them effectively and in ways that are tailored to their learning habits. Research suggests that tweaking the way you coach each generation will have excellent results.

Baby Boomers

All joking aside, your baby boomers are likely the biggest proportion of technophobes. But this doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. 80% of 50-59 year olds believe that age is no barrier to using the internet or modern technology. Boomers possess fantastic motivation to succeed and – despite not growing up with the technology that is commonplace today – they are generally pretty conscientious and willing to accept help. Boomers prefer to learn content through a very structured lecture format and through rigorous note taking, rather than in a self taught e-Learning solution. So when coaching your Boomers, try to do it in a very rigid learning format – something like a seminar in a classroom environment might be best.

Generation X

Generation X-ers tend to want the information to be presented as simply and as straight-forward as possible to cut down on the amount of time spent ‘learning’. They are somewhat likely to be technophobic, but are more likely to simply get frustrated at the process more than afraid of the technology. However, they have a decent base in computer literacy that should make teaching them quite simple. To the Generation X-er, time is a valuable commodity, and most will resent coaching that extends too much into their leisure time. X-ers don’t want to spend time ‘learning something they don’t need’ just for the sake of it. You need to outline how they will benefit from learning this technology. They want points attached to their assignments or they won’t do them, or won’t do them well.

Gen X-ers respond better to ‘in-work’ learning. Arranging short bursts of education with a professional who specializes in delivering short bursts of information would be better suited to the X-er technophobe.


Your digital natives may be your biggest ally in coaching the rest of the team to get onboard with technology. Their early exposure to widely changing technologies gives them an advantage as technology comes like second nature. However, the stereotype doesn’t always apply – a recent Pew Centre study showed that 7% of Millennials are uncomfortable using technology.

Even the most technophobic Millennial knows how to use the internet and they prefer to access the information in their own time and at their own pace. Your Millennial staff are better suited to learning that takes place via YouTube or some other online format that they can access via their smart devices.

In addition, they demand immediate feedback on their work, as they are accustomed to completing quizzes all throughout school. An e-Learning solution that prioritizes instant feedback would best suit these employees.

Let Them Make Mistakes

When coaching technophobes, it’s tempting to step in and help them with their tasks. This is counterproductive for a number of reasons. Most technophobes suffer from insecurity associated with feeling ‘stupid’. So, if they’re struggling with a task in front of customers, having you step in to ‘fix’ their mistakes will only make things worse. When you correct their mistakes it reinforces the idea that they’ll ‘never understand it’ and they’ll associate technology with embarrassment as a result.

Allowing your technophobic employee make their mistakes without an audience is the easiest way for them to overcome their fear of technology. Once they understand what they’ve done wrong, finding out how to do it ‘right’ is only a short step away.

The most important thing is to remember that your technophobic employee wants to be valuable to your salons. It’s not that they ‘won’t’ do it, it’s that they’re afraid that they can’t.

Given the right encouragement, they’ll soon become technophiles rather than technophobes!

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