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When It Comes to User Adoption, Educate – Don’t Train

 

Behind the scenes of many modern and successful businesses is an intranet platform that enhances productivity and promotes collaboration. The problem, however, is that many companies approach the deployment of a new intranet solution from a training perspective. Instead, you should be looking at how you can educate your employees.

It’s this disconnect that can cause problems with user adoption. But why?

The True Role of Training

You should reserve training exclusively for activities that can be understood and completed without context. For example, running a cash register, using a toaster, etc. Meaning we can’t think of training as a way of effectively transferring technical knowledge and understanding to other people. Instead, training should only be used as a way of describing and demonstrating how something works or functions.

This is where training falls short. Employees need to know the why and how of our technical solutions in order for them to understand the value proposition, not just the basic fundamentals, such as what button to push and when. This is a crucial distinction, because when someone understands the value impact to the way they work, they are much more likely to actively engage with the solution – which benefits everyone on your team.

How to Educate Your Users Effectively

Instead of thinking of how you can quickly train your employees to use technical solutions, consider the following principles for how you can thoroughly educate them in order to get the most out of your intranet.

1. Give Justification

Before anything else, your users will first need to understand why the solution exists in order to make the best use of it. Share with them business justification for why the solution was created. By telling them why a solution was chosen, as well as sharing what overall challenges you anticipate it will solve, users will have that “Aha!” moment and realize what they can use it for.

2. Explain Customization

Once you reveal the “why” behind your new intranet platform, it’s important to explain how the solution has been personalized to solve their specific work challenges. This will help them understand how the solution can be specifically applied in order to make their job simpler, more efficient and more productive.

3. Be Patient

Trainers sometimes like to scuttle through sessions as rapidly as possible, but the education approach requires that you take your time with new users. Everyone has different learning styles and speeds, so you should never assume that a user outside of the project implementation process will immediately understand why something was implemented in the way it was as quickly as yourself or someone else.

4. Start Early

Training is often thought of as something you do “at the end,” before sending users off into the world to get started using a technical solution. Instead of this approach, I recommend that you start education early on and have frequent sessions where users are allowed to give feedback and ask questions in order to improve their experience.

5. Continuing Education

Education is much more effective than training, but it’s a long game that can’t be accomplished two sessions, if you really want to empower users to actively engage with the solution. With that in mind, make continuing education a priority in your governance plan, keeping it at the forefront of the implementation and maintenance cycles. Just as much, if not more, importance should be placed on education than all other steps in the process.

Final Thought

Making sure your users understand the value of your new solution, as well as how it can specifically benefit them, will help make for a more efficient and productive experience with it. That’s why thinking of it as just another ho-hum training exercise isn’t going to cut it.

Remember, however, to tailor your teachings based on an employee’s background in that specific technology. You never want to assume a one-size-fits-all approach, but instead want to take the users’ needs into consideration – after all, your new intranet solution is meant to help them, right?

 

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