March 9, 2022
From: Robert Green
CAD Manager Column: Boost efficiency, knowledge and teamwork by developing a strong in-house training program.
In previous episodes of the Back-to-Basics Boot Camp series, we’ve discussed the importance of communication skills and the art of implementing standards. Our series now continues with the concept that unifies communication and standards: Your training program.
In this edition of the CAD Manager newsletter, I’m going to give you a series of quick recommendations to help you create the best training program possible, using the least amount of time, so you can get the best return on your investment. Training. Here is.
Image source: photon_photo/stock.adobe.com.
Solve problems and speed up!
First, be aware that due to the minimal time most senior managers will spend on training, you should prioritize training topics and only spend time on the topics that really matter. You can’t train everyone on everything without investing a lot of time, right? So how do you prioritize your training topics? Consider these metrics:
Does the topic of the training address a current issue?
Will the training topic give users methods to achieve greater speed?
Will the training amplify and improve standards?
If you find a training subject that meets at least two of these criteria, then you know it is a valid training subject. Why? Because you’ll eliminate a problem or speed up production by improving standards compliance.
Notice how my criteria didn’t include things like “cool new features” or “what the latest version of a new CAD program looks like” or anything else unspecific. My goals are to make users faster by using the standards and tools we already have.
You don’t need perfection to train
Good training is simply about showing people the information they need quickly and in a way they will understand. You don’t need professionally designed graphics (screenshots work best), glossy documents (Word documents are fine), or perfect standards manuals (see Back to Basics Boot Camp: CAD Standards for examples on how to develop good standards) . Some of the best training sessions I’ve ever done have included very basic lesson guides and simple examples. Conversely, some of the worst training sessions I’ve attended had great demos and wonderful lesson guides, but the instructor couldn’t communicate the information.
It is better to train users earlier with basic examples and lesson guides than to delay training by striving for perfection.
The most important part of training is explaining concepts in a way that users will understand.
Examples and lesson guides
So what’s the fastest and easiest way to get course examples and guides designed for your training course? Here is what I do:
Design an exercise. This is an exercise that I will be using during the training, so it should be fairly simple to understand, while clearly demonstrating the concepts. Save before and after cases of your models, parts or drawings so you can easily demonstrate each step. And consider rehearsing your exercise using video recordings for optimal step sequencing.
Take screenshots of all menus and relevant steps. I just run through the exercise as if I was rehearsing for practice and take screenshots (I use Snagit), which I then paste into a Word document to create a training “cheat sheet” for participants.
Put instructions. Now I simply add the basic instructions needed to perform the exercise alongside my screenshots to complete my lesson guide – often reviewing my practice recordings to capture the key phrases I use.
Check that. I then replay the exercise using my cheat sheet to check that everything is going well. When I’m done checking, I then give my course guide to a trusted power user for a “sanity and spelling” check just to make sure it makes sense. Note: There’s nothing worse than giving a training and realizing you forgot something in the course guide!
Pro tips for workouts
When rehearsing your training sessions, there are a few things to keep in mind, especially if the session will be presented using Zoom or Teams. These are all tips that will make your training easier for users to follow so you can get the best results:
Use the Goldilocks Rhythm. Neither too fast nor too slow, keep your pace right. Your training pace should be slower than extremely powerful users can handle, but faster than a novice user would like. Why? Because you are trying to serve the large middle class of users with training, so you don’t want to lose them or bore them. If a user has trouble keeping up with Goldilocks, they can always repeat the training by watching recordings (more on that in a bit).
Slow down your mouse and make it visible. It’s amazing how fast a mouse can move across the screen and how difficult it can be to see it, especially on a large screen. Slow down your mouse movements and consider setting your training device to use a large pointer and enable “mouse trails” so users can see it more easily.
The principle of backwards completion. When you start a practice drill, explain what you’re going to cover, show the progress, then go back to the start to show everyone the practice steps. This way people know what they are trying to accomplish and the steps will make more sense.
Define resources in advance. If you are going to record the session, create handouts, or distribute a follow-up email for the session, say so at the start of the presentation.
Hold the questions. Nothing ruins a workout faster than having a bunch of interruptions, right? Thus, inform your users at the beginning of your presentation that you want them to keep their questions until the end of the session. This way, users who have fully understood everything can leave the training and you can help those who have questions. There is no point in slowing down the whole workout.
Keep it conversational
When facilitating a training session, adopt the same attitude as if you were sitting with a single user at their desk. Using plain language and an easy conversational style, simply follow the training exercise as you did when you created it. Strive to convey a “we can do this and I will share this information with you” tone during the training and always stay at the user level so that the training becomes a peer-like experience. Simply and humbly explain the subject and users will love the training, whatever your speaking style.
If you’re going to be training from your computer or laptop, take the time to record your workout using computer recording software (I use Camtasia) to capture your demonstrations and discussions. If you use Zoom or Teams, use Session Recorder to capture your training session. The reasoning for recording the workout is simple: you never have to repeat your workout if you record it.
After training, all you have to do is save your recording in a common format such as MP4 Flash or MPEG and place the video and exercise files on your server so that anyone can watch the training again and again until what he masters the content.
Never repeat the workout! Save the workout and let the user repeat it!
Training doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time if you follow my basic methodology above. In fact, you should be able to start knocking out small problem-solving exercises in just a few hours once you get the hang of it. Let me know how the process works for you.