Monday, July 30, 2012
Maybe you’ve hired a new employee who needs training on a software program, or maybe the company has the need to use a new program. In the midst of running a business, how do you take the time to learn new software yourself or teach it to others? While it needs to be done, you don’t want to take time away from the business at hand.
If you are teaching someone the software, review all its fundamentals to see how clear the instructions will be a new user. For example, some programs have tags that tell the user what will happen if they click on a certain element. A lot of programs provide prompting instructions as the user is using features of the software. If you can, use this and other methods to cut down on face-to-face training because that can take a lot of time and get interrupted. If you are creating separate training materials, you could put them into a PowerPoint presentation or use screenshots in your notes to match the visuals to what they will see when using the software. Remember that no matter how much is covered in training; there will be questions that will come up later, so keep that in mind. Creating short quizzes after different stages of the training will gage how much the person has learned and help them remember key points.
Rather than simply enabling someone to learn the nuts and bolts of a software program, emphasize how the software is a tool that helps the business reach their goals. Defining processes, procedures, and policies along with software training shows employees how their efforts contribute to the larger effort of the business. Start with the basics and add more in-depth training when they begin to feel confident. Also, the training doesn’t have to be completely separate from the job they will be doing—have them use the software for real, on the job tasks even if they need someone there to coach them. They will be able to do the job you hired them to sooner, rather than being sidelined until their training is complete.
Think about who should do the training—if you choose a veteran employee who must train someone in addition to their workload, one of the two may suffer if you aren’t careful, so make sure their schedule can work with this extra job. Also remember that different people learn in different ways, through seeing, hearing, doing or a combination of those. Some people need to know how things work and why they are done that way in order to learn something. Formal training in isolated situations is enough to make the new employee bored, unenthusiastic, and annoyed, so be careful to integrate training into other tasks where they can talk to coworkers and take breaks. While you can’t hold their hand too much, do not just place a new employee in front of a computer with the software and tell them to just start using it. This will not work--even online training tools need to be accompanied by answers from real people. Use a blend of training methods to get the best results.
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