Implementing the following actions can help.
Explore this issueOctober/November 2015
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Involve everyone. Make a formal case for change and allow opinions to be voiced. You can then address any concerns in your training. If people are afraid that their workload will increase, show them how electronic record access and management can actually simplify their tasks. Explain the benefits of data mining that can happen when records are available in a format that allows you to easily analyze data and plot trends.
Create ownership. When workers feel involved, they become invested in the success of a project. Include a representative sample of your workforce in the pilot course. Incorporate their feedback into the project. You will then have a solid group of ambassadors who will promote training’s message.
Communicate. Nothing stalls an initiative quicker than a wall of silence. Let people know that the change is coming. Tell them how the training will help them quickly embrace the new requirements.
Speak to them as individuals. Change affects people and work units differently. Your training must take this into account. It may be possible to have a general introductory course that provides a broad overview of the new system, but be mindful that you may also have to provide targeted sessions for different work units. In our documentation example, the QA department will need a specialized course on data management, while operators need in-depth training on data input procedures.
2. Provide a Safe Environment for Practice and Experimentation
Change asks people to abandon the old way and embrace the new in a complicated dance of unlearning and learning. They need time to practice the steps. If they feel uncomfortable, they will resist. Create a learning room—be it factual or virtual—that celebrates best efforts and salutes fabulous failures. Share stories of your own awkward learning attempts. Remind them that an expert is nothing more than someone who has made all the mistakes that can be made in that field. In short, make the training fun. It is one of the best ways to build excitement for the change and enthusiasm for the learning process.
3. Offer Guidance and Reinforcement
At some point in the training, things may stall. Learners will become disheartened, especially if they’ve tried—and failed—over and over and over again. Sometimes though, the only solution is more practice. This is where you assume the role of wise cheerleader (and no, that is not an oxymoron). Offer guidance and suggestions, but know when to step back and let the learner figure it out. At some point, those training wheels have to come off.
There is no single foolproof method to train for change. The adopted approach will depend in part on the type and scope of the change, the number of people affected, the implementation timeline, and the business impact of the change itself. Whether you decide on a series of lunch-n-learns, a full training rollout, or a series of video tutorials accessible from everyone’s phone and tablet, the key ingredient must always be unwavering support. Remember that you need this change, and for it to be a success, others must embrace your vision. By providing training that addresses not only the technical intricacies of the conversion, but the emotional impact as well, you will be well on your way to making this vision a reality.
McCreary is technical manager, training services, for NSF-GFTC. Reach her at email@example.com. Lefaive is manager, instructional design, training services, for NSF-GFTC. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.