New and existing users of ETO need adequate training to build proficiency, confidence, and capacity in ETO so that your system functions effectively and your users eventually retain this knowledge and build capacity. There are specific ways you can make ETO training more valuable for attendees. This post offers seven ways to design, develop, and execute an effective ETO software training program so that you can get the most out of your ETO system.
1. Practical training curriculum
The best way for ETO users to retain knowledge and build capacity is to make the training practical. A practical curriculum links the training content to a user’s direct experience with ETO. Three ways to make the training curriculum practically-focused include:
- Train users in the ETO database that they will use moving forward. Show data entry and report building within the structure of your ETO site rather than a demo ETO site by using custom screen shots to show things specifically as they are built in your system.
- Include real-life scenarios from the daily work of your organisation in the training curriculum. Walk users through common scenarios and how they correspond to actions in your ETO database.
- If the training focuses on ETO software reporting, use real data your users will recognise so that they can connect with the reporting features.
2. Hands-on examples and exercises
An effective ETO training program should expose users to concepts and then reinforce those concepts by getting them to actually “do” the relevant ETO tasks so that they can build their experience and mastery of the software. After all, “practice makes perfect” and contributes to knowledge retention.
So, it is best to incorporate hands-on learning where users can actually “do” what is being taught. Include opportunities for users to enter live data or run a real report. Get users to work through extreme examples to demonstrate a process and make a point – e.g., Pinocchio, goal is to keep the nose short, intervention is to tell the truth 100% of the time. You can also assign homework so that users can take time after each training session to complete exercises that reinforce the training concepts.
3. Engage learning styles using different methods
In addition to training that is practically focused and uses hands-on activities, it is also important to use as many ways as possible to engage participants, as everyone has different learning styles. Some people learn best with practical “hands-on” experience. Other people want printed training materials to facilitate their learning. Others want to be shown how to do something using a video to reinforce their learning. Others respond well to humour or the use of characters or themes throughout the training to reduce anxiety, inject some fun, and lighten the mood of an otherwise dull software training session. The more engaging the training that is matched to learning styles, the better. Engaging content that is memorable increases the chances the content will be retained by your users.
4. User guides & supporting documentation
Despite your best efforts to make training practical and hands-on in order to increase knowledge retention, some users may forget how to do certain tasks particularly if they are not using ETO on a frequent basis. In these instances, it is important to have written resources to support users after training sessions are complete.
User guides are instruction manuals on how to operate, use, and manage your ETO system. User guides illustrate data entry and operational procedures, outline instructions for running a report, or explain steps to navigating around ETO or a workflow.
It is best to give training participants user guides prior to each training session. Users can follow along in their user guides as the trainer shows data entry or reporting features in ETO. Users can then take notes in their user guides, and refer to them later to help jog their memory afterwards.
Sometimes the best documentation you can provide users are one page documents describing best practices using short hints and contrasting information as these types of simple documents help training stick with users. So you may like to use an infographic which is a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge that can facilitate learning by presenting information quickly and clearly. Or you may want to use a “DOs vs DON’Ts” chart.
Whatever documentation you decide to use, you should also make all your training resources accessible via Google Docs, Dropbox, or Youtube to retain internal knowledge within the organisation.
User guides and supporting documentation are a great supplement to live instruction to keep people engaged throughout the training and ensure they have a resource to refer to post-training, however, they should not be used to replace hands-on learning.
5. Explain the benefit of ETO
Explain to your users why ETO software and the training matters to them. Explain why it is important. People are motivated by how things will benefit them. This contributes to organizational buy-in and investment from all users. Every user is different and may require a different answer to the “why does this matter to me” statement, but using this method is the best way to build organizational momentum for the training and the long-term sustainability of your ETO site.
6. User forum for Q&A and feedback
Users will have questions both during and immediately after the training. Questions are another way that users contextualize and apply what they’ve learned into ETO. Given this, it is important to provide ample opportunities for, and encourage, training attendees to ask questions.
In addition to asking questions, your training should give users the opportunity to provide feedback on your ETO system. Listening to user comments, taking their feedback and then trying to incorporate these elements into your ETO database is a great way to promote user buy-in.
Therefore, during training, you could create a “parking lot” of user feedback to address post-training so that you don’t get bogged down trying to address all this feedback in the training session whilst still maintaining an open forum for user feedback. In this way, users will feel like their input is valued.
7. Post-training follow-up
Building user confidence and proficiency in your ETO database does not end when the final training session is complete, as this takes time. Training is just the foundation, so you must sustain the training outcome long-term by defining a set of actions to follow-up after the ETO training program is complete. For example:
- You may want to set up monthly or quarterly followup meetings with users to support their development with ETO and answer any questions they have. It’s important to address any questions promptly because questions help users contextualize what they’ve learned.
- Work out whether your training goal was achieved. If it was, define how you can sustain that success. If it wasn’t, define why it wasn’t and how you can resolve it (even if that means a more targeted training focused on achieving that specific goal).
- Based on feedback from the training, define a list of actions you will take to sustain your ETO system and make it more efficient. Define operational procedures that will maximize your investment in ETO.
Don’t let training be a challenge to your staff’s work. Training is necessary, but it doesn’t need to be a drag on your organisation. By incorporating these seven tips into your ETO software training, you can help your users be the best at what they do.