Users will require (and or demand) differing levels and types of training to achieve the required level of competence. This is not the same as the theory of differing learning Styles proposed by such systems as Honey and Mumford, but rather relates to the amount of training and the variety of types of interaction that users find most effective.
If we look at a typical organisation, users will sit within a bell curve that describes the range of learning requirements. The bottom axis measures existing system confidence but can also be seen as a measure of decreasing need/tolerance for training:
Right Side of the Curve
Users at the right-hand side generally need the least amount of training to achieve acceptable system competence. They are often experienced system users, who exhibit high levels of personal confidence and have little or no trouble navigating a system. Their perception is that they merely need to know how to perform their designated tasks and maybe intolerant of large amounts of training, seeing it as a waste of their time.
By providing options within the training offering and allowing users to pick and choose elements around a required core, it is possible to provide a flexible training experience that provides the required System Competence while maintaining the required level of user engagement. It is important to note that such users may have influential positions within the organisation and as such have the ability to damage the training programme’s reputation if they feel it does not meet their own needs. The impact of this may be disengagement down through the organisation, which can be difficult to recover from. Similarly, these users can become the biggest advocates and champions of a training program if they believe in its value. Therefore managing this group’s expectations effectively, can make a tangible difference to the overall effectiveness of the training program.
Centre of the Curve
Most system users will sit in the centre of the curve. They may have some level of Personal Confidence, but most will require specific training activities to build this to the required level. Once again users at this level may be able to self-select from optional training elements, but may also require some direction towards specific resources. These users are more likely to engage with more in-depth training as they develop their Personal Confidence. Their system competence may well take time to fully develop and reinforcement activities such as drop-in sessions or webinars delivered a short time after the initial training, will generally play well with this group.
Left Side of the Curve
Users on the very left-hand side of the curve will generally exhibit low Personal Confidence regarding their use of the system. They are often (although not exclusively) in roles where IT systems do not form a core part of day-to-day activity. Because of this, they may find certain training activities less accessible or less useful. For example, In-application support (Guided System Solutions) as an early mode in their learning is unlikely to be effective, as their low Personal Confidence levels will prevent them from fully engaging with the technology. This may have an adverse effect on their engagement with further training and the system in general. This is the group that is least likely to exhibit autonomous learning skills and will generally benefit from structured learning pathways to guide them through the process of developing System Competence.
Small group and 1-to-1 sessions are often useful with these users, especially if they can be facilitated by their peers or immediate team. The added context and trust available from this group help build Personal Confidence in users who may otherwise struggle with traditional training interventions. Note that this group may also be the hardest to convince of the benefits of any change in their current working practice systems. It is therefore vital that engagement activities are developed specifically to ensure they include these users.
How to identify the different types of users
At this point it is important to note that identifying the different user sets in your organisation is no exact science. The most effective way to grasp a detailed understanding of the training audience is to perform a Training Needs Analysis (TNA). A TNA is the foundation of any training delivery and without an effective one, it is highly likely that a training program will fail.
A TNA is effectively a detailed document that is populated with the answers to a series of questions that would be asked of the business across; The Management Team, Learning & Development Team, Process Leads, Project Teams and User Communities. Once the answers have been analysed, experienced training professionals are then able to recommend to the business suitable training options, along with a training plan, timelines and indicative costs.
There is quite a variety of training options that can form a Training Project. Find out more about different learning interventions.