Over recent weeks, I’ve been working with one of our clients in the legal sector to deliver basic software awareness sessions for two of the main applications within Microsoft Office: Word and Excel.
Billed as 1hr taster sessions, each comprising of a speed-demo of “the art of the possible” – we introduced a range of software techniques to attendees that would immediately be of use in their work environments. The demonstrations were subtly altered between departments, teams and practice areas to emphasise more useful aspects of the software.
So what were we expecting from this exercise, immediate productivity? Improved data quality?
No, something a little different from the norm – as purely an employee engagement activity, the sessions were designed to ignite the spark in employees to get them to think about their current processes and how they can use well-established software tools within MS Office to better handle current daily tasks and activities.
Using popular online survey tools and a carefully targeted design, we gathered quantitative and qualitative feedback after training to gauge employee reaction to this “software demo” approach to the traditional Training Needs Analysis.
What we found was fascinating: It immediately became clear what kinds of assistance and specific support each of the teams needed for their current operations.
For example . . . rather than covering their training requirements via a generic Excel Level 1,2,3 approach which covers everything and the kitchen sink, we proposed bespoke modular classroom based training for each department to revisit areas from the taster demos. Employees attended these bespoke sessions, practiced under trainer supervision, then immediately used these newly established skills in their work related activities to consolidate learning. Desk side coaching from the session trainers was also used as a follow up to reinforce best practice and local procedure with the newly acquired skills.
As my efforts are still ongoing with this particular client – I’m happy to report so far:
- The demo approach to Training Needs Analysis bypassed the “I don’t know what I don’t know” phase by revealing useful software tools in a more relaxed environment, away from the workplace.
- Follow up training was: targeted, directly useful to employees and highly cost effective, compared to other strategies I’ve used in the past.
- The pre-training interaction with staff (demo sessions) established the learner-teacher rapport in advance to allow more effective learning when the actual training sessions began.
I’ll be considering this approach again for use with other clients, as although initial demo sessions were a more expensive approach than a traditional TNA survey form, the targeted nature of training designed from my feedback survey results, allowed highly focused and more efficient use of training budget than other methods I’ve used over the years.