TMCnet Feature
September 27, 2019

How to Train Employees on New Technology

A Guide to Training Employees on Newly Implemented Technology

In order for a business to enjoy sustained success over a period of many years, new technology must be adopted. And in order for this new technology to be a blessing to your business – rather than a burden – you have to train employees how to use it.

The Need for New Technology (News - Alert)

You can’t start, build, and grow a successful business over a period of many years without making a commitment to new technology. Regularly introducing fresh innovation into an organization yields an array of benefits. In particular, it:

  • Creates competitive advantage. New technology can create a competitive advantage – particularly if you’re an early adopter in your space. This obviously leads to more sales and greater profitability.
  • Reduces costs. In some situations, new technology can increase costs. (This typically happens when you invest in a new system that doesn’t work and are forced to cut your losses.) But in most cases, a proven technology will promote greater efficiency, which ultimately reduces your costs.
  • Maintains relevancy. Sometimes a fresh injection of technology can invigorate an otherwise stale business. If you’re teetering on the edge of obsolescence, new technology can help you maintain relevancy in your industry or niche.
  • Sends positive signals. Sometimes it’s the thought that counts. When employees, customers, and other key stakeholders see an investment in technology, they notice and appreciate the effort. A commitment to innovation sends positive signals that you aren’t okay with the status quo.

You don’t need every single new technology, system, or software that comes down the innovation pipeline, but it is important for your organization to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening around your industry. It’ll make you more relevant and competitive in all aspects of your business.

7 Helpful Tips for Training Employees

Introducing new technology into your organization doesn’t guarantee positive results. In fact, new technology without a plan will almost certainly produce negative results. You need an implementation strategy, which includes an emphasis on training. Here are some tips to help you with this latter (and most important) aspect:

1. Choose the Right Technology

Anyone who tells you that you purchase a new technology and then develop a training plan is either lying to you, or they’ve never successfully implemented a new piece of technology into an existing business. The training process actually starts when you’re in the technology selection process.

It’s also wise to include key employees and users in the selection process. This is especially helpful when it comes to something like software.

“Let any future users sit in on live demos and give them access to the trials that each vendor offers,” software insider Bryant Chan writes. “Not only will this encourage ‘buy-in’ from the team when you finally select a new system, but it will give you the chance to see which aspects of the software everyone cares most about.”

The only challenge is to make sure you don’t include too many people in this process. Doing so can actually create excessive noise and limit your ability to reach a decisive conclusion.

2. Ensure Trainers Are Proficient

This may sound like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s one that few businesses follow. In order for employees to be properly trained on a piece of new technology, the individuals performing the training must have comprehensive, firsthand knowledge of how it works from the inside out. Without that, everything else falls apart.

If you’re performing internal training, you may need to send your top employees to some sort of training course of their own to increase their familiarity with the technology before they attempt to educate within the organization.

3. Prepare for Friction and Pushback

Resistance, friction, and pushback will occur with any implementation of new technology. And while it’s normal, you can’t let it fester and turn into something that prevents success.

“The key is to address this resistance head on and meet employees where they are,” small business consultant Stephanie Hammerwold writes. “Accept that technology is a struggle for some people, and provide the training and tools to help them feel comfortable with learning the new process or skill. The more time and energy you invest in training resistant employees on new technology, the easier it will become to train them on such things in the future.”

4. Focus on What Matters

Don’t feel as if you have to train employees on every single aspect of the new technology. The most effective training narrows down to focus on the elements of the technology that will be used most frequently.

In a lot of cases, as much as 50 or 60 percent of the features on a new system or piece of software are never used. There’s no sense in filling up your employees’ brains with irrelevant training when you can zero in on the three-to-five features that will be used.

5. Use the Right Training Materials

Different people learn in different ways. Some people like to read, while others would prefer to watch a training video. Some need self-paced content, while others excel with in-person coaching. You can’t appease everyone, but try your best to use a variety of training materials so everyone feels like they’re able to learn.

In addition to leveraging electronic resources, try using printed booklets to supply employees with simple reference guides for basic steps and common issues. This allows users to quickly thumb through and find help on specific topics in moments of need or uncertainty.

6. Get Outside Help (If Necessary)

It’s perfectly fine to admit that you don’t have the resources or capacity to undertake internal training on new technology. Rather than force the issue – which will result in poor implementation of the technology – you should get outside help.

Many vendors actually sell training and support services alongside the underlying technology. This could save you ample time and money, while also producing better training results. It’s definitely something to give further consideration as you move forward.

7. Give and Gather Feedback

From a big-picture management perspective, it’s important to develop a culture where people are comfortable giving and receiving feedback from a variety of individuals. This is especially important regarding training.

Offer feedback throughout the training process to let employees know where they’re excelling and which areas they can improve. Otherwise, their uncertainty will breed hesitancy – something you don’t want when implementing new technology.

“Additionally, employees also need to know that your management team is there to offer support and further training should they require assistance,” Saxons Group mentions. “This is where future training sessions can be useful as well as one-on-one or group follow up support from specialists and managers.”

Listen to how your employees respond and solicit both direct and anonymous feedback. Doing so will help with both the current implementation, as well as future trainings.

Continually Optimize Your Approach

What worked yesterday won’t necessarily work today. What works today might not work tomorrow. That’s the cold, hard reality of training people on new technology. If you’re going to enjoy sustained success on this front, you must regularly optimize your approach to account for changes in both technology and human behavior. Only then can you generate lasting results.

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