5 Ghosts of Old Training Mistakes that Will Come Back to Haunt you
Halloween is a wonderful opportunity to air old skeletons in our closet and confront our greatest professional fears, which we normally keep well hidden and tucked away during the year. Training strategy is something we work really hard on all year round, but we only get a chance to address it with a spooky, tongue-in-cheek tone once a year, so of course I couldn’t resist.
Memo, The Goldfish Ghost of the Forgetting Curve
The Forgetting Curve is gaining more awareness in the training sphere. According to scientist Herman Ebbinghaus, most learners lose over 40% of what they’ve learned within the first 20 minutes. By the 6th day, most of lose 80%-90% of what we’ve learned. Not unlike a goldfish. Mind-boggling.
Training professionals and CLOs are becoming increasingly aware of this painful side effect of the training process, and are looking for new methods and technologies to beat this plague. Needless to say, users who were trained ineffectively usually turn to customer support when they run into functionalities they don’t recognize. This results in massive need for support, where training should have addressed the issue in the first place.
Anxela, The Shivering Ghost of User Insecurity
Or, in other words, “Why, oh WHY didn’t I integrate hands-on experience during training?!”
Hands-on training won’t fix the forgetting curve entirely, but it minimizes the scope of the problem. One of our coolest features as human beings is our ability to learn things more efficiently as we touch them, experience them and make them our own. Driving through a certain city route helps us process the way so much more than tracking it on the GPS.
Similarly, working our way through new software builds up the confidence that passive learning doesn’t inspire. We can feel it, we remember a certain flow of actions, we map and register where things “live” in the application more effectively.
Leany and Needy, the Twin Ghosts of User Dependency
My pet name for this ghost is “in retrospect, maybe I should have let the trainees fall off more cliffs”. Or, if I may shamelessly quote my grandmother – “those who don’t do, don’t make mistakes”.
Granny is right, of course. Users need to make mistakes in order to know that they can recover from them. They need to be able to mess up a workflow and forget to save an entry and know that they survived, that the computer didn’t burst out in flames and that the world didn’t end. And they need to learn that while they are still in training, so that they do not develop that unhealthy dependency on authoritative training and support figures.
As teachers and trainers, the greatest pride should come from producing fearless, independent users who is not afraid to tackle issues on their own and stick their hands into the software and confront technology head on. Sure, that process is messier and scarier for everyone involved, but it is empowering and the results are infinitely more satisfying.
ZeeZee, the Ghost of Employee Disengagement
“If only that manual didn’t have so many… words.”
It’s an uncomfortable thought, but someone has to say it: Users.Don’t.Like.to.Read.Manuals. Most SaaS platforms offer onboarding and support solutions in the form of videos, GIFs and bots. Those digital habits are becoming an industry standard.
Off-site documentation often includes comprehensive PDF directories, and while those include screenshots and step-by-step break downs of all functionalities – they are still perceived as outdated. Users will often go online to look for a shortcut to help, or a youtube hack.
Support and training documentation need to be brought alive in order to be more engaging. Images are great, but videos, GIFs, animation and sound are better.
Sia the Blind Ghost of Training Insights
“Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them”.
I wouldn’t be invoking the profoundness of Pragmatist philosopher George Santanaya if I didn’t have to, but this is a matter of grave importance:
Training success is a key parameter in performance metrics. Only by selecting the right metrics and building a smart monitoring system, can you really find out how effective the training is.
Analytics need to be a headstone in training strategy. Specifically, the ability to plan training goals, determine benchmarks and measure success according to them.