Your company just put considerable time and effort—not to mention budget—into identifying, comparing, testing, and selecting a new digital technology. Whether it’s an investment in new software, proprietary systems your company has built, or a hybrid project, your board and your staff are eager to achieve its specific benefits. That’s good news…but procurement is only the start. Getting employees up to speed with new technology—quickly and efficiently—requires planning, funding, and implementing a tech-forward approach that becomes part of your company culture.
Here’s how to train employees on new technology, with eight topics to consider in helping your employees embrace—and champion—your bold digital transformation.
Build it before they come
Ideally, the time to start planning for implementation and training is when you start looking at software or technology. Even while the technology is being investigated, form your implementation and training teams on parallel paths.
- Tap into existing training programs: What works well and could possibly be adapted?
- Who are the operations experts that can begin assessing phases for rollout?
Think about the timeline. Right now.
Begin roughing out a master timeline as soon as possible with planning software. Link dependencies so the timeline can evolve as the details are solidified.
Although it may seem like trying to fly an airplane as you’re building it, a thorough, phased implementation plan—that includes comprehensive workforce training—is crucial to your digital transformation. Better to move out the go-live date than to skip planning steps or rush through training. Do-overs are not only costly, but they also can erode employee, customer, and shareholder confidence.
Train your trainers first
Early on, task your teams with identifying digital-first employees. Gather these early adopters and introduce them to the technology as soon as possible. As they explore and test it, they can provide valuable feedback to identify roadblocks, help shape usage standards, and build training modules.1Ask them:
- How does this improve upon the old tech or manual processes it will be replacing?
- What are the top three-to-five skills or tasks everyone will need to be proficient in?
Also, consider naming them as transformation ambassadors and enlisting them to promote this—and future—digital optimizations to build trust and generate continuous improvement.
Create talking points
For best results, digital transformation starts at the top. C-suite leaders who are fully committed to change will prioritize the time and resources to achieve it. Middle management teams are set up for success, in sync, and working together. With all leaders on the same page, everyone can sell it in consistently to staff.
Consider creating a communications plan with specific talking points for leaders at all levels. Encourage leaders to talk up the why—not just the how—by including:2
- Tangible benefits for the company
- Specific benefits for employees who’ll be using the new technology
- How this initiative fits in with your company’s long-term vision for success
Offer learning options
Not all employees learn well from lectures or a user manual, especially if it’s not clear and concise. Be sure your training team builds modules with a show-and-do framework, clearly demonstrating tasks or functions and then having trainees complete what they’ve just learned.
If budget allows, build multiple learning paths to accommodate individual learning preferences. This could consist of live sessions, a video, a written series employees can complete at their own pace, or small group workshops where employees can ask questions and learn from each other.3 Other components to consider:
- Providing a safe sandbox where employees can test and learn on their own, without the stress of potentially failing on the live system
- Adding forums for employees to share lessons learned
- Gamifying tasks and lessons
- Offering small assessment rewards to encourage completion
After initial training is completed, have your training team capture its curriculum, optimize it, and use it to train new employees.
Training reports can help managers track progress and success rates as a curriculum is rolled out. They also can provide stakeholders and company leadership with accurate updates and challenges along the way. At a minimum, gather training measurement metrics at the start, midpoint, and completion of initial training.
Bring everyone along
It’s a simple but often overlooked component: Build feedback into every phase.
Along with nurturing a positive company culture, asking employees for feedback is extremely valuable to fine-tune the technology and processes.5 As users implement the new technology, they’ll often discover new ways to accomplish tasks—and find areas to expand functionality. It’s a win-win for empowering employees, recognizing their ingenuity, and generating greater productivity.
Ask about digital expertise when hiring
With continuing business labor and staffing challenges, now is a good time to screen all your potential new hires for digital skills and expertise. New talent that may already be familiar with tech solutions can give your company a strategic head start. Ask new hires for input on what they’ve used—or would like to—as well as how they’ve worked through technology challenges in the past.
Rinse and repeat. And repeat …
It might seem like digital transformation never ends—because it doesn’t. After the initial rollout, your company should regularly evaluate all your technology and processes, adjusting to continually optimize.6
To stay ahead of the curve on new technologies, challenge your digital and operational leaders to report regularly on emerging trends and new tools. Invite input at all levels. By making everyone an integral part of the next transformation, they’ll be better prepared to embrace the change.