6R Retail

Learning New things is Hard (especially in projects)

- Posted: March 9th, 2018

We’ve reached ‘that stage’ in the project, the learning curve is steep. Last week one of my team members was showing people how to open multiple browser windows and explaining that this was not a feature of the browser-based system they’re training on but rather of browsers themselves. It was enlightening! The learning path ahead is going to be a bigger effort than I had expected for this team.

To get a project off to a good start the internal people need to get the objective of the project, be clear about what success looks like and understand what it is they need to do. They also need to be good at their regular jobs or have someone help them with their regular job because what they’re about to embark on is a long way from their regular work and often it takes additional effort and focus to get the new stuff that they’re not used to processed.

The most significant thing the internal team are going to do in the execution of new project is learning;

  • learning new ways to do things,
  • learning how to communicate ideas,
  • learning from their trials and errors,
  • learning a new piece of software and how it works, and often,
  • learning a whole new language!

Learning new stuff is exhausting! Just ask any parent that has a child starting school.

Over years of implementing systems I have learned and forgotten how to navigate my way around lots of different systems. I am the ultimate 5-minute expert, figure it out, write the steps so others can navigate the path, train them up and then leave (with a documentation trail behind me of course!) What’s interesting about this is that the learning how to learn has been the most important thing for me. The most important thing is giving it a go. Conquering that fear of ‘breaking it’ or ‘doing it wrong’ is massive for some. All the theory and explanation in the world is no replacement for ACTUAL hands on practice. And all the talk goes right out the window when you try to do the thing that’s been discussed and can’t make it work!

Focus new Learning on the Job and Process

At 6R we have done a lot of training over the years of different systems in work environments and the things that I have learned about how to help others learn something new in projects are:

  • Training for the job not the system, which is a way of articulating this idea I have borrowed from elsewhere, what it’s basically about though is contextualizing how the system will be used in the new process flow (yes, there’s always a process change) and how this relates to the job;
  • Building on this means that what I call the connecting functions which is about the functional things that happen off system, decisions and rules that are part of approval processes and conversations. Keeping sight of process in new systems is critical, a new system without process will be abandoned in no time.

Tips for Training Sessions

As far as actual training sessions go, we always aim to:

  • Keep it light! A little bit of humour and silliness that lightens the mood is a good thing. People learn best when they are as relaxed as possible. This means reducing distractions in the room, maybe some relaxing tunes to start the session, or making sure there are snacks;
  • Break it down into digestible chunks. Making sure that sessions are scheduled at the right time of day for the rhythm of the business and are a goldilocks length of time (not too long, not too short);
  • Giving worked examples that are based on the business data makes training more relatable, so making the effort to show data that is close to what the business will use is important;
  • Practice, practice and more practice! There’s nothing like hands on giving it a go to beat a path through the system and then come up with – what if scenarios? What if it doesn’t go to plan, what if I want to change it here? And here?
  • Seek input and feedback from the team. Adjust training materials, approach and repeat as many times and needed.

 

If you are struggling with the best way to train on a new system, get in touch.  We work with retailers to equip internal teams for the project efforts ahead. Our project management tools are light and flexible for retailers.

The 6R team work behind the scenes, leading through project management, testing, training and team building to deliver project success.

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