You’ve just been told you need to train people who are undergoing change management, and will soon be using a completely different system that is currently being implemented. All fine so far. These people will be using the system every day, their ability to do their jobs depends on their ability to learn as much as they can about this system and adapt their current policies and procedures to meet the demands of this new system. Sounds like any other day, right? Now you’ve just heard that because implementation took longer than is budgeted for (also not surprising), the budget for training has been reduced considerably – instead of two weeks, you have one, or instead of one week, it’s now two days. Your job is to work out how to ensure that this training is a win-win situation for management/your client, the employees and you, as a trainer.
Griping about the situation aside, there are ways you can ensure that the staff you are training still get a best practice outcome, and feel confident moving forward with a new system, despite a lack of time in the training room. Here are some pointers on ways you can do this:
1. Accept that you can’t train everything if you don’t have the time to train it. Doing everything in no time at all is not actually training, it is just giving users a demo. The problem with this type of training is that it doesn’t educate, it doesn’t enable, and at worst, it will expose staff to how much they don’t know compared to how much they need to know which builds barriers to change where none existed before.
No company is going to tell their staff ‘Hey! We just invested a whole bunch of money in a new system but we aren’t going to bother investing in training YOU!’ You need to create training that will benefit all parties, that allows you to maintain your professional integrity. That way, when money becomes available further down the line, you can build a business case which isn’t littered with feedback from training attendees that your course was useless and didn’t teach them what they needed to know. ‘There wasn’t time’ is only an acceptable excuse for what wasn’t covered in training, not for poorly covered, ineffective content.
2. Needs analysis!! This is key to any training, but it is the difference between success and failure when you have very little time to impart a lot of information. You need to know what they need to know so that you can prioritise the absolute essentials, and leave behind the ‘it would be nice if’s. For more information on conducting a needs analysis, you can visit my blog post on Needs Analyses here. Once the Needs Analysis is completed, take the results, your realistic training schedule and a list of what is being left out, and push back on management to ensure that they understand the challenges you are being faced with and why elements are being cut from training. Always ensure that senior management know what you are leaving out and why; you never know: this may lead to more budget for training either immediately or down the line, depending on management’s perception of the importance of the items on your leave-it-out list.
3. Advanced Exposure. Ensure a ‘sand pit’ or, if this is too difficult, a recorded demo of the system is available so that employees can have a sneak peak before training. One of the biggest barriers to moving forward in systems training is people getting overwhelmed by the newness of everything they are looking at, which slows down progress. If you have the ability to give staff an experience which is designed to allay fears that the system is big, scary, and completely different to anything they are familiar with (which it never is because it still has to work in their specific work environment), then you can have them come to training ready to learn, instead of ready to resist.
4. Be up front! Tell your trainees that you have a lot to get through and that the schedule is going to be tight, so if they feel like things are going quickly, to let you know and you’ll do your best to make sure everyone is able to keep up. Tell them that you will do your best to help them to understand everything that they need to know, but be ready to tell that one person who just isn’t getting it that you will work with them in break to answer all their questions. Never be afraid to offer your time during breaks or after class (within reason – you shouldn’t still be at work at midnight) to get people over the line, especially if that one person is a time sink who is holding the class back from progressing. You never know: that person could become the system’s biggest advocate and your strongest champion once training is over.
5. Embrace technology. Is there a way that a portion of the training can be presented online as micro-learning? Does the organisation already have an LMS that can distribute short videos which give people resources they can use to understand aspects of the system? Can you offer Distance Learning where staff can phone in and complete units of the course with you online as a means of reducing the cost of training per head and allowing more flexible training options? If time and money are the problem, there are ways to make highly effective training videos quite cheaply, particularly if you are doing systems training where all you need is the product to be trained and a program like Articulate, Captivate or Lectora, and there are very inexpensive ways of giving broad access to the training, through wide-spread open source (read free!) LMS platforms like Moodle.
6. Embrace informal learning practices. Once you have ensured that staff have the basics, if there is still some budget left, there are ways to pass on some of the more important elements of the wish list to a wider audience. Select the people who need to use the system at a higher level, or who are more systems literate than most, and encourage training just those users in more complex features of the system. Once they are trained, they can then mentor, coach, or lead sessions with other users once they are back in the office. A small group is more agile, and therefore more able to learn and adapt to the system in a shorter time period, allowing the trainer to cover more ground, and the group to build a much greater capacity, which they can then potentially pass down through the organisation.
Learning and Development is a key factor to success in any new systems implementation, but that doesn’t mean that L&D doesn’t suffer when money is tight or projects overrun their budget. Your job as an L&D professional is to provide an effective product that meets best practice no matter what the constraints. Sometimes this means embracing new ways of delivery, such as by utilising technology or by embracing informal learning practices, or by pushing back and reducing the load on your schedule. Either way, the end goal is the same: ensure that whatever you train is relevant to business and staff needs, enables your trainees to feel confident about the new system, and involves experience with the system that is relatable to their everyday work function.
Do you have an experience where you had your budget for training slashed? How did you overcome the problem to create a great training experience for your attendees?