Training people without any budgeted money always presents a difficult situation. If you’re creative in your planning, however, you can complete the job. First look at your organization’s structure. Can you see a hierarchy? Do you have departments within departments? Are your office managers computer savvy? Does the sales department have a sales assistant who looks after the needs of the sales reps? If so, recruit an official corporate training team and delegate the training responsibility to that team.
Select the best players
All organizations usually have a structure that can be used to your advantage. Put together a training team of employees that are in strategic places within the department. While department heads are usually the most knowledgeable people for each department, they usually are too busy to take on the extra responsibility of training their employees. Most departments usually have one or two computer savvy people within them, and these are the kind of people that you want to look for.
For example, in my organization, sales assistants handle administrative duties in their areas. These people could be placed on the training team and given the responsibility of training the sales force. Office managers also make a good choice as they are usually in tune with their department’s needs. Develop your team according to the size of your organization and the resources available for training.
Where will the team play?
Now you have your team of 10 trainers. They have accepted the responsibility and are ready to get started. The question becomes “Where is the most logical place to teach?” In my organization, we have research centers, which are rooms designated for planning marketing and sales strategies. If needed, I can set up a small computer lab and train my users in these rooms. Do you have any rooms that can be transformed into temporary computer labs? Boardrooms, employee lounges, research centers, and libraries make great temporary labs. The most important consideration in choosing your room is whether it can be transformed easily and quickly.
Once your team of trainers is ready to train, they’ll need some rules to train by—and those rules come from you, the coach. Assign times for training. Pick the best times of the day that don’t conflict with other work duties. Is morning better for training rather than afternoon, when all the sales people are out on appointments? Do you train once, twice, or three times a week? The answer depends on how quickly and thoroughly you want to train your users. Putting in place a beeper and announcement rule is also advisable. For instance, start by letting users know that no beepers or intercom announcements will be allowed during training times.
Reward your team
In sports, successful teams receive trophies or other accolades. Your training team deserves a reward too. Ask your company to spring for lunch once a week for your team. If the training requires overtime or weekend work, maybe some extra compensation is in order. Whether the compensation is monetary or comp time, it makes for good relations with your team members. Since the company is going to save money by training in-house, your managers will be more open to other forms of compensation for the training team. This good will knocks down some of the barriers that IT managers and company managers too often have between them.
Behind every championship team, there is a great coach. You must be this coach if you want to your training to be successful. Develop your strategies with success in mind, and the rest will take of itself.
Matthew Mercurio is the manager of information systems for Clear Channel Broadcasting. Follow this link to send Matthew an e-mail.