The only constant is chang...ing technology.
The popular saying may be, “The only constant is change,” but we’d like to tailor that specifically for you: the only constant is changing technology. Seems like the moment your employees become comfortable with a new system, technology, or software, another one comes along. This ever-evolving (but often improving) access to new software can be good for business but frustrating for employees. The key is knowing how to train employees on a new system or technology. These are our favorite tips for training your employees on a new system, effectively and hassle-free.
Challenges of training new systems and technologies
It’s no secret that there are an infinite number of new technologies available in every industry covering every possible process. Because of that, you have taken the time to really dive into the features and benefits of different software and carefully selected the best one for your company. It’s clear to you that this technology is going to help your company grow and thrive, so your employees should see that, too… right?
Well, not exactly.
Because there can be nearly constant change in many industries, some employees are frustrated and burnt out from learning new software or updated systems. They may just start to feel comfortable with one when someone comes along from the top down and makes a change. Further, existing technical training sometimes needs to be updated to reflect component, version, or update changes. You're always working to train on the most up‐to-date material, which can become a chore for employees.
Training methods to learn new software and systems
Getting employees used to new software and systems can be done, though, with a minimum of training friction. Here are our five tips on how to train employees on a new system or technology:
- Trainers need to know the software or system themselves
- Make training a priority to improve buy-in
- Set clear and realistic deadlines and rollout methods
- Use training incentives for employees to use new software
- Pick the right format for training
Let's look at these in more detail.
1. Trainers need to know the software or system themselves
Part of a solid change management training plan is that the trainers themselves need to be experts before they develop the training.
Employees will know immediately if the trainers don’t know the software or are unenthusiastic about the program.
When designing your training, use subject matter experts (inside or outside of your organization) as they will be infinitely helpful when developing technical training. If delivering training in person, choose your trainers wisely and give them the training they need to support employees in the next steps of implementation.
2. Make training a priority to improve buy-in
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when implementing new programs, procedures, or technologies is asking already overloaded employees to magically find time in their day to add training. The result of this is predictable: employees will put off learning the new software for as long as they can in favor of doing the work they already have in front of them.
Make training a priority by allocating the time and resources to make sure your training is comprehensive and well-received.
Another way to get more employee buy-in is to take the time to help them understand why this new software is of benefit to them (and not just another new shiny thing headed down the pike). At this stage of the game, they need to know how this technology will make their life better (and their job easier!), with minimal change.
3. Set clear and realistic deadlines and rollout methods
Employees feel better about training requirements when they know what to expect. If you want your new software implementation to fail, spring the training on unsuspecting employees in a company-wide email at the end of the day or at the beginning of an especially busy period.
A crucial part of getting employees to use new software is to demonstrate respect for their time and already-packed schedules. Give plenty of advance notice of clear deadlines for training, and outline the rollout methods you will use.
For example, if you are phasing in a new accounting software, you might introduce the software with a link and ask employees to take a look before the next staff meeting. You can encourage them to bring any questions or concerns that arise to that meeting, and then incorporate those into the next phase of training (maybe a comparison of the new program with the old one, or a list of benefits of the new one).
Give employees time and space to process the change
A big part of overcoming change friction and employee pushback is letting them see what’s coming and then giving them time and space to process the change. Does this mean a rollout of new technology will take longer? Maybe. But it also means that employees will be more willing to come along for the ride because they feel supported in the transition. That could save real time when it comes to the overall training process.
4. Use training incentives for employees to use new software
After much back and forth about the value of training incentives, the verdict is in: used selectively and with high-quality rewards, training incentives work. The key is knowing your employees well enough to know which rewards will help them be more engaged and motivated to complete the training. For some, it’s literally as simple as verbal recognition that acknowledges their dedication.
For others, you might think creatively about how to keep employees motivated. Maybe at certain checkpoints in the training employees can take off an hour or two early on a Friday afternoon, or maybe a regular part of training is a delicious catered lunch or breakfast. Maybe it’s even a $25 gift card when the training is complete.
You know your employees the best. The goal of training incentives is not only to get employees trained but to also recognize their effort in the process.
5. Pick the right format for training
It’s true. Some companies still use the old training format of hours in a conference room. Think of this as the “ripping off the Band-Aid” approach. Sure, it delivers the training quickly, but does this result in employees who are really comfortable with the change and can use it easily moving forward?
In most cases, lecture-based, hours-long trainings are not effective in helping employees develop their new skills. One study of a four-day, eight-hour ergonomics course found that although participants picked up theoretical knowledge, their practical application of that knowledge was not effective.
They heard the words, but they could not apply the skills.
Many employees might also be in the field or remote, so make sure you’re designing courses that they can consume in the easiest and most effective way possible. Meet your employees where they are with training that includes a variety of delivery modes, including:
- Interactive demos (including simulations)
- Gamification to teach practical applications (tied to incentives)
- Videos as microlearning resources when they need learning aids in the future
- Geofencing when appropriate for quick bites of just-in-time information
At EdgePoint Learning, teaching you how to train employees on a new system is one of the things we do best. From tweaking your current training program to designing a new one from the ground up, we can help. Get in touch with our training experts today!