Fear of change is perfectly normal. On the current system you know exactly where everything is and you feel in control and comfortable. A new version of your software, far from seeming like an opportunity can represent a new system where you will no longer be in complete control as you won't know how to use it. This leads to feeling of vulnerability. How can you go about managing this fear and learning the new software?

Firstly, recognise the opportunity. Yes there may be new things to learn, but it will still do everything it used to do. Functionality that was in place yesterday will not suddenly disappear, although it may be in a slightly different place. It may also do some extra things that you may find useful. An example of this is the Sparkline feature in Excel which comes with the latest Microsoft Office release. This feature allows the user to place a tiny chart within a single cell. These are incredibly useful and very simple to create. All I did was steadily and slowly use the help and the wizard to create one and then play around until I learnt how to use it properly. This did not take long.

A new version of the software may look very different. An example would be the Ribbon now present in the new version of Office. This replaces the tool bar drop down lists and is basically a new way of organising the same features as before. It's basically like taking the same birthday present and wrapping it up with a different coloured bow. Some users may feel nervous when they log in and are confronted with this change. All of a sudden you cannot find the simple tools you were used to. Do not panic! Everything is there, even though it may look different or be organised in a slightly different way. An example is the Spelling and Grammar check which used to be contained within a drop down list. Now it is located on the Review tab of the ribbon, grouped in with the Proofing section. This is an attempt to group things logically and make everything more accessible to the user.

One simple way to find your way around is to think about the software in a logical way. If you were to pack up and move to another town, what is the first thing you would do? Every town contains a similar set of things. There is a supermarket, a veterinary surgery, a doctor's surgery, a greengrocers etc. Just because you know longer know exactly where they are does not mean they no longer exist. You would start by looking on the internet or a map to locate the whereabouts of such places. You might ask someone else who does know. You may even simply go out and explore. It would be exciting and you would have fun getting to know your new area. There may even be a couple of additional things that you didn't have in your last town which you will want to make use of such as a leisure centre.

Manage your fear of the software by taking the same approach. Begin by looking at websites which list the new functionality. Pick one of the new features that sparked your interest and look into how to use it properly. Use the help functionality and the internet to find out about the features. If you work in an office with a training budget then request training on the new software. Ask other users for help if you get stuck. The best way to learn is to get involved and explore it yourself. First try and find everything you used before and then explore the new functionality.