In some ways, technology investments have made your IT team’s job easier. In others, technology has made their jobs tougher.
As business tools become more feature-rich they become more complex, which means more training for everyone. And we do mean everyone, which is a big task that requires rethinking.
Every company handles training differently. In the ideal situation, you’ll have a training manager dedicated to workforce training and development. The scope is often knowledge-based rather than skills-based. While that’s the gold standard, we understand that training often falls to managers, department heads, and individuals.
Meanwhile, technology training for your workforce often falls to your IT team (if it’s offered at all), and as you well know, they have plenty to do without worrying about whether employees can use Salesforce, iOS, and even Microsoft Office products. That’s concerning.
Businesses need better technology training. With it, you’ll improve efficiency, save your IT team for the important stuff, and empower your employees to learn.
Self-directed, online training improves efficiency
While peer-to-peer training and on-the-job training have their place, online video training is more efficient and effective — and more businesses are realizing that. In a recent CBT Nuggets survey of 379 IT managers, 41% said they expected their online video training to increase in the next two years.
That increase can be attributed to not only training their IT professionals but their entire workforce.
Many organizations take for granted that every employee — yes every employee — is capable of using the tools necessary to perform their core functions. In our experience, people typically stop learning when they know how to do what’s necessary to complete their job. That’s not enough, though.
Your company likely uses Excel and Word — and you’ve probably also only scratched the surface of what these tools are capable of. Sure, your people have almost certainly mastered the basics and some piecemeal intermediate features. If that’s the case, how many users are only familiar with the basics? Now, apply that reasoning to more advanced tool suites like Salesforce and even entire operating systems.
A common example from Excel: Most people either use Excel as a big calculator or a way to organize data. And that’s a good start. At the very least, anyone who uses Excel should know how to use intermediate functions like Pivot Tables, SUMIF, COUNTIF, and either INDEX, MATCH, or VLOOKUP. For more advanced users, macros and advanced formulas automate regularly accessed data.
Self-directed, online training enhances the productivity and output of a typical user’s workday. A survey of 1,024 CBT Nuggets learners found that 92% improved their productivity and quality of work. Online video training conducted during work hours in their workstation helps your people bridge the transfer gap — and apply what they learned to their day-to-day tasks.
To apply those tasks, structured education provides your employees with solutions they didn’t even know they had. Your people want to learn and improve their skills, but many haven’t been empowered to do so.
Your IT team is too busy to get so deep in the weeds
A common mistake that companies make is to hand over training responsibilities to their IT department. Think about your IT team’s breadth of tasks. They research the correct solution based on business needs, install and support the system, certify on the system as an administrator, learn the system, and then teach everyone how to use it. In a survey of 600 IT managers, almost two-thirds ranked Windows 10 and Office as their most pressing training need in 2018.
That’s problematic. Unless your IT staff is familiar with user training methods and best practice, it is unlikely that they will provide an optimal learning experience. They essentially become an alternative to Googling the problem, which isn’t the best use of their time — or sustainable for the future.
Instead, empower your workforce to learn
Implementing (or improving) your technology training gives your entire workforce permission to learn. You want your people to be continuously improving, which extends beyond seeking out and finding answers to finding better ways to do their day-to-day tasks. Your IT team is ill-prepared to get into the individual processes of your employees.
As business applications become more specific to the function they support, it’s less likely that a member of the IT department will be familiar with its advanced functions.
Take Salesforce as an example. Your IT team or Salesforce developers will certainly understand how to install and configure the application. They’re not going to be as useful a resource for the day-to-day support.
Departments must take ownership of these systems, training every employee that uses an application. Not only does this keep the usage of these systems to a set standard, but it also reinforces the department’s best practice policies, which can be built into the training material when inducting new staff or re-training existing employees.
The IT department can then take on a supervisory role, offering support and technical assistance whenever the need arises. It is a good idea to have a technical champion from the IT department assigned to a specific application, or series of department applications so that they can offer first line support for troubleshooting.
This means that the nominated IT department champion should undergo some basic training, along with the department’s staff, when it is first being introduced, but only as a primary support function and not as a trainer.
Reexamining the IT team’s role in technology training
Generally speaking, the IT department should only get involved with training when it directly involves them. These are things such as inducting new users or formally introducing the IT policy documentation and procedures. These can be simple items such as:
- How to use the telephones, printers, and scanners
- How to log support tickets with the help desk
- How to request IT consumables that are not stationary
- What constitutes proper and improper use of IT resources
- Standard best practices such as password secrecy and password renewal
- Confidentiality and privacy, as well as data security
In these instances, your IT department will be more involved in user training than with externally supplied software products.
Finding the right balance
There are no set rules when it comes to training, but there are guidelines. All industries are different, and all companies within these different sectors are different. The best way forward for any IT department is to manage the expectations from these departments and involve all stakeholders in the training process.
Only when there is a mutual understanding of the training and support requirements from your IT department will you find the right balance between having an IT department that offers excellent support and one that facilitates training.
Otherwise, you’ll likely have user training that falls short of the mark. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way.