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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Lack of keyboard skills

This particular category applies to a surprisingly large number of people, many of them in management and executive positions, who are being asked to pass judgment on the acquisition and placement of personal computers in their organizations.
Typing skills and knowledge of keyboards have generally been the province of those working in secretarial or clerical positions, dominated primarily by women. Only in the last decade have typing skills become more universally accepted as important to other jobs and careers. A great many managers, executives, and other professionals, particularly those over 40, never learned to type.
Now, they are suddenly being asked to use a technology that nothing in their education or job experience has prepared them for. Many have always had access to secretaries or office typing pools and the thought of typing one’s own letters, reports, and memorandums is somehow demeaning to a large number of these success-oriented males.

It is easy to understand why this can scare the daylights out of almost an entire generation of decision makers. Many of them not only share the usual frustrations of learning about computers, but have to do so at an agonizing hunt and peck pace. The magical productivity value of the personal computer is lost amidst the jumble of the keyboard.
The problem is further complicated by pride. Many of these people don’t want to be seen by their staffs as not knowing something, particularly something like typing. They view this gap as a weakness that might somehow affect their control of the work, or possibly their careers.
Some of these men and women treat their inability to type in a manner reminiscent of someone who can’t read or write. If given a personal computer, they often try to ignore it as long as they can or ask others to help them do something (“I don’t think this thing is working right. How about trying to get it to do this •. .“). When they do turn it on it is often done behind closed doors where others can’t see them trying to figure out how to use a keyboard. These individuals are among the first to delegate the technology to someone else, or otherwise move the machines out of their offices. This may seem like a small thing to dwell on, since many of these people can easily bluff their way through or simply delegate the computer and its keyboard to someone else. One of the problems, however, is that such people wield a lot of power, which they can use to keep the technology out of their offices or departments and thus avoid any kind of embarrassment at all. (As I have watched personal computers begin the march to the desk tops, I have seen frequent attempts made to stop or divert them. In several of these cases, I believe that the lack of typing skills on behalf of the person or persons making the decisions played a prominent part in the underlying rational for keeping them Out.)The need to learn keyboard skills may not be a pressing priority for a lot of those currently in such high level positions, since the greatest impact of personal computers is still in the future. Many of these individuals will make it through their careers without having to worry about using the personal computer as an integral part of their jobs. The next generation of managers and executives, however, will have to possess a greater knowledge of keyboards than did their predecessors. This has the potential of becoming a sensitive training issue in some organizations, one that will require some tact and perseverance in overcoming. It seems inevitable, however, that typing skills will become a necessity in higher level positions that never required them before. Management may not want to hear this, but it is a subject that will have an effect on how they do their jobs in the future. It is to everyone’s benefit if these issues are discussed and planned for openly. It will also require some special training approaches to meet the needs of such a special audience. Until these things occur, the lack f education in typing and keyboard skills will play a part in the fear people have of personal computers in their offices.

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