• How to Cope When SharePoint Training Doesn't Connect

    We're spent plenty of time emphasizing the importance of SharePoint training, even taking plenty of time to tell you about effective SharePoint training techniques. (For more on that, check out the SharePoint Engine monthly newsletter.) Despite all our advice, though, there's still a chance that your training just won't hit home with your audience.

    What causes this dissonance?

    What can you do to prevent it?

    And what can you do to fix it once it's already happened?

    While we've covered the first two topics in some measure previously, the third one has yet to be discussed and it's often the most challenging. So let's dive into it now. Here's a brief guide on how to cope with failed SharePoint training.

    Step One: Re-examine the training.

    Ask yourself these questions: What approach were you using? What portion, if any, of your trained staff are now capable of the target tasks? Did you hold to an expert-approved set of concepts and strategies as you went into the training?

    Don't hesitate to get actual staff feedback to see what can be improved. It's their approval – as displayed by their competency – that you're after. Ask them what stuck, what didn't, and what they think could be improved.

    Step Two: Re-focus the training.

    What were your objectives? In other words, what tasks should users have been capable of by the end of the day? Far too often, companies train their users on a variety of "do this, go there" concepts without teaching the users the why or how of the procedures.

    Decide what exact tasks and what conceptual competencies your trainees should be able to demonstrate, and examine why your previous strategy didn't work.

    Step Three: Re-formulate the training.

    Go through the portions of the training that were ineffective and revamp them. Make sure you're teaching your trainees why it is that certain elements work; this avoids the temptation to have users memorize a sequence of steps. That sequence, if altered or disrupted, becomes useless – whereas conceptual knowledge can both adapt and expand on the required competencies.

    Step Four: Re-apply the training.

    Consider testing on a smaller group before you train a large group again. As you approach re-training, also be sure to 1) admit fault in creating ineffective training curriculum, 2) give advance warning that specifies both the reasons and the timetable for the training, and 3) provide incentives for completion (whether that's something as simple as a casual Friday or something as heavy as a small guaranteed pay raise during the next evaluation).

    Step Five: Re-re-examine the training.

    Did it work this time? If so, what made it work? What can be re-applied to future training? If not, might the problem be architectural rather than within the training itself? What gaps or areas for improvement remain?

    These five steps (re-examine, re-focus, re-formulate, re-apply, and re-re-examine) are a strong approach to training your employees effectively when your first attempt didn't stick. In the end, though, the problem can sometimes boil down to a lack of foundational knowledge or background experience. In these cases, the wise choice is often to hire out to the experts or seek the advice of a consultant. In either case, SharePoint Engine can help.

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