I worked at the local grocery store while I was in high school. As the patrons and I became familiar with each other, they would often greet me with a joke. One of the more common salutations was “Working hard or hardly working?” After several attempts to play along, my preferred response became “You know me, a little bit of both!” As my career has advanced I’ve noticed that my reply has taken on new meaning. Most people are truly working hard, but so frequently the output of their hard work falls short of expectations. They are the inverse of the old adage “work smarter, not harder.”
In today’s fast paced world, it sometimes feels like hard work is preferred to smart work. Hard work is immediately measurable in hours worked, while smart work can often be measured by hours not worked. When we develop this sense of preservation over preparation, training is the first thing to be sacrificed. Without proper and sustainable training, we find ourselves with teams of people who are working hard, yet hardly working. Here are some key tips to ensure that your training program is on track:
- Training should tell the story, giving the necessary background information on why we do things.
- Training should show exactly how to do the most necessary functions.
- Training should explain where the information can be found to respond to ongoing needs.
- Training should be ‘sticky.’ Proper and frequent testing can prove that the training is retained.
- Training should be ongoing. Your environment always changes and training must be available to help your team immediately adjust to these changes.
Software is usually the most difficult portion of training. It is important to work with your 3rd party vendors to ensure that their training meets your needs. They should have modules on your most common uses. Your job is to make these modules sticky. Hold your teams accountable for their adaptation to the software. Don’t allow them to develop ‘work-arounds’ for the more difficult processes. When you ask your team if they are working hard or hardly working, they should be able to respond with confidence that they hardly need to work to work hard!