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Assistants have a lot of patience, but when it comes to training our colleagues on how to use a new app or software, that patience gets tested. For example, like when we receive emails asking “how do I login" or “how do I download a file” moments after we've circulated a 'How To' document with these answers. Ah, the little joys of our job!Despite how difficult training very busy people to use a new tool can be, there is a process for training or on-boarding colleagues that can reduce a lot of the frustration. Last year, I started a professional social network for assistants, called Cabinet, where my job everyday is to educate and excite new assistants about our product. In the process, I learned 3 simple but fantastic methods that help even the least tech-savvy folks grasp a new concept. I’d love to share them with you.
It is difficult to ask people for their input because it leaves us feeling vulnerable. But like Brene Brown says in her famous TED Talk, vulnerability is essential. Early in the vendor sourcing process, so well before you've purchased the new tool, drop by your colleagues’ desks and ask for their feedback on what you’re trying to do. If you work remotely or your colleagues often travel, send a short email asking them to offer any feedback they have on your options. By offering their input, your colleagues will become invested in your endeavor. If they are invested, they will want to see you succeed in achieving your desired outcome.
Once you’ve chosen which new service to go with, your job shifts to creating hype and excitement. Last week at the World Economic Forum, legendary entrepreneur Scott Belsky shared his secret for helping people adopt new technologies: Make it fun. “When it comes to rolling out an internal enterprise tool, a lot of the adoption of new technology comes down to internal merchandising,” said Belsky on a panel. What he means is marketing. If you make the new software seem fun, people are more likely to want to learn how to use it. You can do this by choosing software that has a playful design (see Slack for example) that is easy to sell. You can also generate excitement by making your on-boarding session upbeat and engaging. One effective approach to this is to turn it into a game with some light competition; this has the added bonus of making it fun for you!
After the on-boarding or training session, email people individually, if possible, and ask them if they have any questions. This has two benefits. First, it reminds your colleagues about the software, bringing them one step closer to using it. The longer they wait, the more likely they are to forget your instructions. Second, the next time they use the software they will think twice before asking for your help. You already asked them if they had any questions and they said no, remember?If you’ve tried all three steps to engage, excite and offer encouragement to your teammates, and they still don’t seem to grasp the tool on their end, then, oh well. That doesn’t fall on you. There is a good chance that the technology is not entirely user-friendly. There is also a good chance that your colleagues are extremely busy and genuinely have no head space to master something new. If the latter is the case, then I sincerely hope you are not installing virtual reality headsets for virtual meetings or some new bio-metric alarm system. If you have any other tips for how you engage your teams to adopt new technologies, comment below. I’d love to hear them!
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