Education

Do your IT trainers really have training skills?

Many companies scrimp on the end-user training of IT-created products and tools. Does yours?

I had a number of absolutely brilliant professors in college. Some knew their topics so well it was awe-inspiring. But it also happened that in a couple of those courses, I sat there most of the time with this expression on my face:

That's because the professor didn't know the first thing about imparting what he knew to the rest of us.

This is a common phenomenon among companies who don't put much money or authority behind their end-user training. What you get is an IT pro who is very knowledgeable about the technology behind an app or tool but really can't bridge the gap to explaining its usage to the people who will be using it.

The results are presentations that lean too heavily on PowerPoint and don't use any kind of practical exercises aimed to ensure retention. But, as I said, this is less the fault of the IT pro as much as it is in company leadership. Leaders have to be willing to put some money behind training programs and be willing to do follow-up research to see what worked and what didn't.

I'd like to do an informal poll of you guys to get an idea of what kind of training situation you currently have in your companies. Once you take the poll, come back and tell us whether you think your company's method of training "does the job."

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

9 comments
shash_m
shash_m

I have started my career as technical trainer. And I believe training is skill and art to train people. I have seen people with good understanding of technical stuffs sometime fail to deliver and training went into fiasco. I have attended quite some corporate training also where I have found trainer was much involved is selling his own company???s products with bombastic marketing and communication skills. For every question asked to him, he paraded his company???s brochure in front of others. I believe, merely flapping PowerPoint slides doesn???t going to help unless and until you jump on lab exercise which create more interest among attendees . PowerPoint only help when u are delivering a seminar or techtalk for the technologies.

Bob_or_Fred
Bob_or_Fred like.author.displayName 1 Like

At the large corporation where I work, we have a department specifically for training. The drawback though is that the trainers are trainers, not IT people, so their technical aptitude is... less than desirable. They also tend to grow out of the loop on several things because they're not actively engaged in daily operations.

ThePoster
ThePoster

Training is a frivolous nice-to-have. The company I work for specializes in training services. They don't practice what they sell.

kd1985
kd1985

our users end up being trained by other users

jfuller05
jfuller05

I'm the only IT technician on site for my employer, so if I'm not busy I can train a new employee, however that is rare. I don't mind training, but usually I don't have the time which is unfortunate because the new employee is then "trained" by the employee that supposedly has "skills." When we are going to utilize a new technology, for example, like start having hourly employees clock-in instead of using time-sheets, we'll have an official group training for all of those that will be involved.

sprtcly1
sprtcly1

I am now a Sr Business/Systems Analyst in my IT dept however, I used to run the IT software training program for the company and used to be a trainer. As the company grew and more software enhancements were developed, we hired non-IT trainers to provide the training to our end-users. As the group grew the entire training program became part of our HR dept and then a new dept was formed called Global Training and Development. Now training has become part of all software development project plans. The trainers take part in the end-user application acceptance testing so they become throughly familiar with the application. They are then prepared to provide just in time training when the new application is rolled out to the organization. This has become a very effective way to transfer the knowledge to the trainer so they are well prepared to train the business users. We also have what we call a SWAT team available for end user questions/issues during the first month after deployment. The SWAT team is comprised of other UAT testers that work on the floor with the business. These people are considered application experts that understand how the application works with the business process. Overall, we have a very successful training program.

phil_hagerman
phil_hagerman

sprtcly1, I used to work at a large software company who used the same approach you outlined here. It worked very well for us. Our training team had more than enough business and technical knowledge to convey the required information to our end users. Our SWAT team provided excellent backup during product rollouts and helped to fill in gaps for our Power Users. I really feel that as companies grow and training becomes more formal and increases in scope this is one of the most effective models. The trainers love it because they get a real feel for the technology and processes they have to teach ahead of the classes. End users love the tiered approach knowing that the SWAT team is a phone call or email away from being right there to fill in gaps from the previous training classes. Thanks for sharing this approach with the group here. I hope more companies adopt this approach. It's a win-win for everyone concerned. (Note: A large number of projects fail not because they don't deliver on the user requirements, but users do not accept the new system. Training can have a big impact on this aspect of project success)

khowe
khowe like.author.displayName 1 Like

After a career in IT I decided the next step would be to become an IT Trainer. I enrolled on a 1year concentrated course at my local college to become qualified. After completing the course I started working as a Microsoft Trainer and was surprised at the amount of trainers who had not only no IT Training qualifications but very little IT experience! They could all communicate well and knew exactly how the system worked, but as for IT - the majority had very little interest! I felt that this was a shame as doing the IT Training course gave me the added knowledge which could not be gained otherwise and people where getting into IT training simply because they had the ???gift of the gab???.

Derek Schauland
Derek Schauland like.author.displayName 1 Like

Being the only IT Pro in my organization I occasionally get to do training, which is unfortunate as training is fun, but my company has trouble with training from a time scheduling stand point. There is no formal training program for IT and getting that stuff done is rather difficult.