5 Training Hacks that Save Time and Money

March 19, 2018 | Sherrie Niedermeier | HCI
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How many times have you heard your clients say something like:

  • “Our new system is coming out next week, and we need to train everyone as fast as possible.”
  • “Senior leadership wants this done immediately.”
  • Or even worse, “We don’t have the budget for this, but we still need training.”

Before you resign yourself to eye rolls and venting, consider my personally-tested hacks below and how they can help you out in such situations.


1. Help your clients differentiate between training and communication.

A lot of requests for training are really requests for communication. Spotting the difference is as simple as asking a few easy questions.

  • “If you gave people $100, would they be able to do what you need them to do?” If the answer is ‘yes’ then training is likely not a solution.
  • “What would you like people to do differently after the training?”  If you get answers such as “know why it’s so important to…” or “have an awareness of…” then it’s a communication need, not a training solution.

2. Leverage the job aids that people create for themselves.

I have been known to go from cubicle to cubicle in an office or call center, asking people if I could make copies of what’s on their walls. People are resourceful. They often create their own job aids to support their day-to-day tasks and are generally very happy to share them.Sometimes all you need to do is clean up the formatting and voila! You have produced a job aid that you know will work because people already use it.

3. Use low fidelity solutions for quick hits.

When I recently needed to repair my dishwasher, I turned to the internet for guidance. I searched for “dishwasher is redepositing dirt” (a very traumatic situation) and was able to find several instructional videos. I chose the shortest clip that got right down to business, followed the step-by-step instructions, and … well, let’s just say that I didn’t make anything worse. My point is that you can make some low fidelity videos or podcasts and have training ready in just a few days. Added bonus? Salespeople love video training. Film high-performers doing their thing and you’ve got insta-training! Put that on the ‘gram.

4. Create electronic toolkits instead of participant guides.

Have you ever looked at what people leave behind in training rooms? I have, and it’s a quick way to learn that most people leave their participant guide behind (along with empty water bottles and candy wrappers). Consider producing electronic toolkits that people can use during class to practice new skills and for performance support when they’re back on the job. You can include models, processes, examples, templates, checklists, worksheets … the possibilities are endless. There are no printing costs and now you’ve enabled learning transfer, you training genius.

5. Before you create systems training, have a focus group use the system with no training or help whatsoever. 

If people can run through a series of tasks with very little guidance, training on the full system isn’t necessary. Watch your focus group closely and take note of what they do and where they have issues. Maybe a job aid for just the tricky parts is all that’s needed. And it doesn’t hurt to explain that we all learned to use Facebook without any training. If the platforms and tools you’re using truly provide a benefit to employees, many can and will learn how to best use them without requiring L&D to lead the charge, and that’s an organizational win!

The one-off and quick fix requests for training are not going to end any time soon, but these hacks can help you navigate the needs. The best and most effective training programs are those that address the underlying issue(s), and they help keep your eye rolls in check, too.