Have No Fear

How to help your users not be afraid to learn new things

For those reading this today – yes, it’s Friday the 13th. Amazingly, over 17 million people fear Friday the 13th, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute. Even more amazing is that it has its own word, “paraskevidekatriaphobia”. But like many superstitions, such as walking under a ladder or a black cat crossing your path, they are, by definition, unjustified fears.

What else are people afraid of? Well, lots of things. But, in the world of business intelligence and data analytics, the biggest fear we come across is the fear of change. For some, they embrace learning something new – excited at the prospect, even. But for many, change makes them uncomfortable to the point they avoid it, or at least, put up mental barriers that make it even harder to accept change.

To learn how we can break down these walls, I spent time with Brittini Schafer, Director of Customer Success Enablement. Brittini has worked for over eight years helping our own field teams at Qlik overcome their fear of change. And given the speed that new capabilities and information needs to be shared, Brittini has had to learn how to help people not only be less afraid of change, but actually look forward to it.

What’s her secret? Making sure that everyone knows they are not alone. At the core, most people’s fear of change is really a fear that they may not look good in front of others. They want to be valued, and people naturally tend to believe their knowledge is how they provide that value. Worse yet, people will assume that everyone else “gets it” and won’t ask questions when they don’t, so they learn incorrectly, which then results in compounding their fears when they realize their knowledge is incomplete.

So, according to Brittini, the first step in any learning process is to make sure they are comfortable with asking questions. Ice-breakers and other techniques that help them gain the courage to raise their hand when they don’t understand. Ask random questions – not to put them on the spot or make them look bad, but rather to show others that perhaps they were not the only ones who didn’t catch that last point. Or help them see if they ask a question, they may be helping another who is a bit too shy to ask themselves.

Second, make sure they are focused and ready to accept new information. Being so busy that you can’t give your full attention is often the first excuse people use to avoid learning something new. But when they are truly listening, they are more receptive to new ideas. Creating a little bit of anticipation can also help, so give them teasers on what they will learn or let them see the benefits on how it’s going to help them do better.

So, what does all this have to do with data analytics? Because the same applies to analytics end users. Change is hard, and even more so when its affecting how they make decisions every day. And some of the worst students will be your most senior level users who especially don’t want to look bad in front of their team. Therefore, take time to think through the right way to engage each person. Some may benefit from a more 1-on-1 approach where they can be comfortable asking questions. Others do better in a classroom or group environment where they leverage what they see others doing. Regardless, taking time to anticipate what may create that “fear” and help them overcome it will go a long way to helping them believe and change.

Happy #FridayThe13th! @marypitzer explains how you can help people learn and change by alleviating their fears!


In this article:

Keep up with the latest insights to drive the most value from your data.

Get ready to transform your entire business with data.

Follow Qlik