IT Operations • Learning
We all know that technology is only as good as the people using it, and how well an organization uses technology is often the pivotal factor in achieving success. Not all people learn at the same rate, however, nor do they learn through the same methods. Depending on the size of your organization, this can have a crucial impact on its ability to maximize IT investments and bring large numbers of staff up to speed with new technology. Fortunately, there are as many forms of training available as there are learning styles, but does your IT team leverage and integrate these options across their training initiatives?
As a leader responsible for learning and development in your organization, it’s important to bridge this gap and develop a strong working relationship with your IT organization. Initiate the conversation and bring your team’s learning and development expertise to the table. Recognize that the DNA of your IT team drives towards standardization, including how they teach end-users to use new technologies. Standardized training approaches create efficiencies, but the most effective training addresses individual learning styles, and is customized to the unique challenges, values and culture of the work environment within each internal business function. By working closely with IT to facilitate training, your talent development team is able to tap into different learning channels, accommodate unique learning styles and ensure that employees master new technologies and applications.
Here are five practical ways to customize and enhance tech
training for individual learning styles:
1. Align internal communications and distribute step-by-step/how-to technology guides in your employee e-newsletters. A significant number of people, regardless of demographics, are visual-verbal learners. This means they prefer to learn by taking in information through their eyes, typically in the form of words and pictures on a page or screen. To maximize the reach of these learners, regularly producing and publishing a newsletter works best. Fortunately, digital media makes this cheaper and easier than ever before.
Not every IT department sees it this way. It has become increasingly common for technical support centers to scrap newsletters in favor of interactive media. However, this decision ignores an entire segment of your workforce. By regularly delivering newsletters into the inboxes of visual-verbal learners, you meet them on their own terms. Employee newsletters link step-by-step and how-to guides for personal and team productivity, such as how to use available technology to improve efficiency or manage projects. However you choose to organize your e-newsletter schedule, your objective should be to stand out amidst the glut of information they’re already bombarded with.
2. Host Q&A sessions based on the most persistent technology issues employees face. There is another segment of learners for whom text and static instruction are invitations to disconnect and zone out. Instead, they make sense of their world through back and forth dialogue. For this type of learner, your method of choice should be the Q&A session.
Regardless of how large—or geographically dispersed—your company is, give employees the ability to actively engage with the best IT minds in your organization. Many web and phone-based conferencing platforms include tools that facilitate group participation in ways that closely mirror in-person interaction. For smaller teams, hosting regular gatherings is the ideal supplement to any digital education you’re able to provide. No matter how advanced communication technology gets, the dynamic of people sharing information in person fosters better communication in ways that are lost in other channels.
3. Provide an online knowledge base to help employees find solutions to their
technology-related questions. While regular updates and training sessions can be remarkably helpful, many people still prefer to learn by doing. These are the employees that do best when they are thrown directly into a live work situation and have to figure out how to perform the job on their own. While catering to employees with this learning style may make certain executives nervous, failing to do so ignores that they will perform better when the training matches the way they learn best. By emphasizing “textbook style” education with these valuable members of your organization, you run the risk of losing them. A well-organized, easily searchable information database allows these learners to find and digest information that helps them get the most out of their technology tools precisely when they need it most.
4. Offer on-demand advisors for one-on-one live support, both over the phone and in person. Some employees still need a bit of extra hand holding. There are also many cases where training and self-service solutions cannot effectively provide the level of detail needed to effectively address a specific challenge. Make sure your IT team supplements technical training sessions and its searchable knowledge with human experts who are trained to provide assistance.
For some employees, a phone call to your technical support center works just fine. Others need one-on-one coaching for the information to sink in. Using a more personal approach to teach these employees early on is the best way to get them to master the art of navigating our increasingly digital business environment. An on-demand service provides quick answers to technology challenges and is a cost-effective way to resolve real-time challenges.
5. Conduct specialized training sessions geared toward the needs of specific teams or functions within your organization. It’s true that both the accounting department and the executive administration department use Excel, but do they use them in the same way? Not even close. The same goes for Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, SharePoint, and countless other tools and platforms. Yet for most IT training and education initiatives, we treat everyone in every department the same.
Before simply inundating employees with technical information—regardless of what they actually do on the job—take the time to study what they need the technology to accomplish. Start with the needs of various departments and staff members and then design technology training to match those needs.
Be a Catalyst for Technology ROI
The pace at which your organization will deploy new cloud, social and mobile technologies will only increase over time, and more training will be needed for your employees. If used correctly, technology can multiply a company’s profits, productivity and efficiencies many times over. Today, your IT department may be at the forefront of that charge, but your talent development team is a critical success factor in facilitating technology adoption and maximizing your organization’s technology ROI.