A special kind of dread comes about when you hear the words, “all-day training” or even worse, “all day webinar.” While they’re sometimes logistically necessary, they’re not the best opportunities for real, behavior-changing learning to take place. If you’re trying to get users to adopt new software, an hour of demonstration wedged into seven hours of management updates and process training isn’t going to get the whole job done. Instead, deliver ongoing deployments of small, value-oriented learning opportunities. In part three of our three-part training blog series, we’ll explore the best training for long-term user adoption.

As adult learning theory tells us, changing habits is largely a matter of repetition. An effective adult learning experience offers frequent opportunities to return to and practice the same concepts while gradually building new material off of those concepts. However, within large organizations, training on a critical new software tool is often treated as a big one-time task. A multi-hour webinar is scheduled, users call in, they listen patiently and try their best not to get distracted by email, and the task is crossed off the list. If they’re lucky, the users might get a few PDF handouts which they can consult later when they’re trying hard to remember anything that was said in the webinar all those months ago.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. When you’re trying to change your users’ work habits with the introduction of new tools—software or otherwise—you’re best served by doing it in small, repeatable pieces. An hour of training never repeated or built upon is easily forgotten.; An array of five-minute learning experiences, offered regularly through different channels and building on each other over the course of months, has a much better chance of sticking.

The biggest challenge in using this approach is figuring out your different communication channels. Throwing a long, one-off training session on the calendar may not be the most effective software training strategy, but it’s logistically straightforward—all you have to do is line up everybody’s schedule. Finding numerous opportunities to reach your users for a few minutes at a time requires a little more creativity but is worth the effort. Here are some suggestions.

  • In-tool training: Ideally, you will have some capability to deliver as-needed training right within the software, which turns learning and doing into a single cohesive experience. Simple tooltips, rollover text, pop-up windows, and prepopulated text fields all give you a chance to reach users when you have their full attention. The way you use them should reflect a coherent effort to help your users learn what the software can do.
  • Rich documentation: The old-fashioned instruction manual has gone out of style, replaced by simple, instructionally focused documentation on user workflows. When augmented by images, videos, or even useful animated .gifs, good documentation can be just as effective as a presentation.
  • “Office hours”: Repeated short sessions that combine training with Q&A, feedback, and open discussion give your users more opportunities to learn and get engaged.
  • A well-equipped Support team: Every time a user contacts your Support team, there is probably an underlying opportunity for learning. By coaching your Support team in basic instructional language and thinking–and making sure you’ve equipped them with enough information about your software–you can turn them into a team of just-in-time trainers.

At Square Root, we are always focused on use adoption and believe a well trained user-base is the only way to produce effective change through software. Do you want to learn more about our training philosophy? Check out part one and part two of our training blog series.

Check out our CoEFFICIENT® overview page to learn more about our SRM platform.