Previously on You’re Live, Now What?!…we talked about the importance of the Training Framework. Today, we dive into detail about the various aspects of training with a focus on things you need to consider when providing a training program for your users.
Let’s jump in…
People consume information in different ways. I’ve done presentations on training many times and every time I do I run a little test asking the group to self-identify based on how they prefer to consume learning material. Without fail, there is a division of the room.
Some people prefer to watch a video. Others prefer a manual with screenshots and call-outs outlining what they do. Some prefer to be walked through the process in real time, either by someone next to them or an on-screen guide. Others prefer no training at all and learn by poking around a training or sandbox environment set-up for training.
((A note about that last item – learn by self-exploration – this is fine if you’re using something whereby only one way of doing something exists – in many scenarios, that’s not the case and this method can lead to inefficiencies when a user uncovers a way of doing something that isn’t the most efficient way of achieving that item. Of course as admins we try to reduce this possible in our system design, but it can’t always be avoided.))
As training providers, we need to be mindful of how people consume information. If you are in a small company, it’s possible (unlikely, but possible) that everyone can agree on a single format. If so, that’s great, but we must be prepared that this is not likely the case, and prepare material for each type of consumption.
Expecting everyone to consume training information the same way is essentially the same as expecting to teach a gold fish to climb a tree like a monkey. They just aren’t built that way.
Let’s talk a bit about the various manners of training.
Videos – these provide a great way for you to interact with your users without being there. Of course it’s one way, but people can find you for questions later. I love videos because users can pause and rewind things. When I digest content, I find it really valuable to have full control like this as sometimes I need to hear something a second time, or watch more closely. If you use the right software, you can even add elements to the videos like call-outs, highlights, or zoom in on things.
One tip I’d share – lose the robot voice. Be you. In my experience users value the authenticity of you being you in the video. I stopped editing out the pauses or umms and uhhs (but you should try your best to avoid those anyhow!), because it made it feel fake. Very few (if any!) people are never going to have those things happen, so leaving them in increases the feeling of watching live instead of watching a video.
Manuals – a great way to provide an overarching go to resource for your users. Some users will treat that manual like gold, and use it daily. They are a lot of work to put together, and even more to maintain. Anytime you make updates in the system that change any of the UI elements or a process, they should be updated. Historically I used an update cycle, releasing a new version of the manual every X months and maintaining a spot on our organizational learning site that provided a link to the most recent one and a big call-out as to the current version.
An online version is an option – think “knowledge base” where people can go and search for what they want or need. These carry with them the benefit of embedding the video directly within the article so people get the text explanation/screenshots AND the video all in one, appeasing both styles but still having only one place to go. That’s a benefit, in my opinion.
Tip Sheets – these are just like they sound. Usually one pagers that provide an overview of how to do something very specific. Think things such as; Create a new Contact, Add a new record to the app, how to open and navigate a record, etc.
These are useful grab and go tools that people value when they don’t do a task daily/regularly and require a quick refresher when they need to. The same caution around updating comes into play though, as any system changes should be updated.
Tool Tips – wildly helpful in app, a tool tip comes up when you hover a field to provide the user guidance on what to enter. Think of a date field with a field label of “App Date” – the tool could state something such as “The date the application was received” (this is just an example – a whole other article may surface one day about the value and importance of clear field labels).
User Aptitude and Learning Styles – a tricky thing to measure. User aptitude speaks to the ability of the individual to learn and/or to use the system. Learning style pertains to how they learn – not just consumption of information, but also their ability to translate that into skills with the system. These can be difficult to measure. Even more challenging is when you are in an environment where you have various levels of user aptitude paired with different learning styles.
I don’t have all the answers. What I can tell you is that it’s an important consideration as you navigate through training. You may need to spend more time with some users, and structure information in different ways to properly inform, instruct and engage them in the process.
When planning a training or the creation of training, think about the various aptitudes and styles that could be reading/viewing. Don’t limit this based on your current users. Transitions happen. Try to think about what other styles could come to the organization that might need a different approach.
Again, this is a balance, and I’m not suggesting you need to factor in something different for every single human individual. Instead I’m saying think about these things as you plan and prepare your material to ensure you’ve providing content that will instruct, inform and engage across the spectrum as best you can.
Training Never Ends!
In one of my first experiences around providing training for people, I had the naïve mindset that once I created and published the material the user would just know to find it. They would go and get it when they needed it, and wouldn’t ask me about the topic of that material because they had what they need. Blissful.
Blissful ignorance, as it turns out. I’ve come to learn that training is not a one and done.
- The system evolved? Training is needed.
- New users? Training is needed.
- Users doing something they’ve never done before? Training is needed.
- It’s simply been a while? Training is needed.
Now this is not to say it needs to be a live training every time. In fact, I’m a huge proponent of recorded training and training documentation because users can tune into it when they need it.
But there does need to be a schedule of training reminders and pointers that help users get to the training. There are a variety of ways to do this, and I’m going to touch on them in the next segment of the You’re Live! Now What?! series when we dive into User Adoption which marries beautifully with the “engage” of the training framework.
Before I wrap, though – I’m interested in your thoughts! Do you have training methods that you find really appealing and useful? I, as well as other readers, would love to hear them! Share them here, or join the discussion on the social post promoting this post!
We’re all learning. Why not learn together!