Training colleagues to use a new HR technology can be daunting and there is a lot of pressure to get it right. If users feel frustrated and uncertain while using a new tool, such as a people strategy platform, they may return to the old methods of figuring out their HR data despite how antiquated or cumbersome they are.
When I led the training during the roll out of Visier People to City of Edmonton employees, I wanted to ensure that every lesson I prepared would make mastering the self-service analytics solution easy and uncomplicated. I knew the topic — people analytics — was new and somewhat intimidating to many of the people I would be training, yet had the ability to provide them with incredible value. Planning and communication were key to success.
As a trainer, before you step into a classroom prepare yourself with these six training ideas:
1. Be a learner first
It’s easy to forget when you’re leading a class that you also had to learn the solution at one point. Whether you had someone teach you or you taught yourself, think back to those experiences as you’re developing your training and be sure to share your insights.
Let me tell you my story: when we were first setting up our data in Visier, I arrived at work one day to discover that instead of being able to see data for the entire corporation (my authorized view), I was only able to see a single department. I panicked. After a call to Visier, we were able to determine I had simply set a bookmark as my default and minimized my own access to view all the data. The “issue” was resolved in a single mouse click.
I make certain to mention this story to my learners, not just to provide some levity during a class, but also to minimize the likelihood someone else will make my mistake.
2. Incorporate interactivity and personalization
Do you want your teacher to sound like the one in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (“Anyone? Anyone?”) or do you want to learn from someone who wants to engage you in learning? Rather than designing a lesson plan where you do all the talking and everyone listens, think of some ways to get your learners to participate in the lesson.
Show them how to use the tool, and then let them find the answers to questions while you’re in the classroom as a guide. Or better yet, ask for their questions at the beginning of the lesson and incorporate these as examples instead of your own. For example, in the case of people analytics, do they want to find out what key employees are at risk of resigning, find out what factors are driving engagement, or dig into pay equity across the workforce?
Learners get energized when they are working with their information and when it is relevant to their job. If you give them chances to practice and gain confidence during the training, they will be more likely to try it on their own later.
3. Adapt to different learning styles
In 1984, educational theorist David Kolb published a categorization of four learning styles based on how learners process and perceive their environment. The Kolb Learning Styles are boiled down to the methods people use to learn:
Essentially, Kolb said everyone uses these four methods to learn, but we tend to put more emphasis on some than others. Knowing which learning style you use also makes you more aware of the style you prefer to use when instructing.
The trick is to include a little of each style in your lesson plans so you are able to engage a larger audience. Ensure that you tell them, show them, coach them and support them throughout their learning process. For example, ask learners to tell you briefly about their experiences (which stimulates feelings and memories) and then, to answer any questions or issues they have, perform a demonstration of the tool as they watch — this makes them feel supported in their learning (watch and feel). Afterwards, give them opportunities to use the application themselves (do something and think through a problem).
4. Be honest, then follow up
I wish I could say I’m never asked a question to which I don’t have the answer. If I did, I’d be lying. I don’t have an HR background and many of the questions I receive in class are about the tool plus human resources. It’s okay to admit that you don’t know. That being said, promise to find out the answer and then follow up with the learner later.
To make this easier, I carry a notepad into every session I facilitate to make notes on questions I cannot answer. (I also use it to jot down ideas or observations — the classroom is a great opportunity for me to learn as well.) Having great intentions is the first step, but then you need to schedule time to research the answers and follow up with the learner. It is customer service and it takes time; however, it results in building a rapport with your learners, plus you gain subject matter knowledge that helps you improve how you instruct others to use the tool.
5. Remember you ARE a subject matter expert
Do you know everything about the technology you are training the class on? Likely not. That said, you know more than someone who is just getting started with it. Don’t undersell your knowledge. It’s easy to get nervous, especially when you’re teaching someone who is higher up the organizational hierarchy than you. Treat everyone who sits at a computer to learn with the respect you’d like to receive as a student and you will quickly get over those nerves.
By the way, quickly is relative. It took me a few classes. I practiced beforehand in front of coworkers who I knew would provide honest feedback. I also created an outline of points and participatory activities I wanted to cover — coinciding these with a slideshow. This helps me keep the class moving along and focused.
6. Update tutorials regularly to remain current
Our people strategy platform, Visier People, comes out with quarterly updates, including online help content. I use these as regular opportunities to update my training. It is also beneficial to provide online versions of training documents, which you can easily update as a reference later. To make sure my reference material is functional, I pass it to someone who has not taken my training, and ask them if they are able to use it to complete certain tasks in the tool. This helps me identify if I skipped over steps when I was pulling it together. Plus, my learners are always fantastic sources of inspiration. By observing my learners throughout the training, I’m able to identify new ways to tweak my lessons to improve their experience.
Constant Learning Improves Success of Your Tool
One measure of success for a new enterprise technology is adoption. Are employees using the tool? Is it helping them perform their jobs better? When you hear positive responses to these questions, it speaks volumes about yourself as an instructor. It means that employees benefitted from the training that you provided, and this is contributing directly to improved business outcomes.
I’ve trained 300 employees and counting on Visier. Our employees leave the program energized and excited to have accessible employee data. But we’re not resting on our laurels — we’re constantly searching for new methods to remind our employees to incorporate what they learn in the classroom into their daily operations.
We learn from each other, so please comment below to share your lessons learned and questions about training colleagues. Best of luck in conquering the classroom and your new technology!