What I didn’t expect when I turned my new computer on for the first time at 6:45 am yesterday was a great object lesson on training. I was really excited about the computer because it represented a big improvement in performance that was badly needed when I edit video files and create eLearning content. Now I just needed to tweak the set-up to configure it the way I like it and I’d be all set. Yeah, not so much…
The company I work at has one of the best IT departments I’ve ever seen. They are professional, have excellent documentation, answer problems quickly, and are even friendly when you come back for the tenth time in the same day. (Unfortunately, they are a bunch of Green Bay Packers fans, but hey, no one is perfect. My Patriots put them to shame this year anyway.) In spite of the excellent work they do, my new laptop had a slew of problems when I powered it up and I was stopped cold from working, with no IT staff on-site yet to assist me.
I’ve got an incredibly busy schedule this week because there are two really important live training events on the horizon and both have a ton of details. With a computer that couldn’t run my key programs, I was in trouble. First, Microsoft Office didn’t work, then I was missing my editing software, and then I realized I couldn’t access my OneNote files, then…well, you get the idea. As I worked throughout the day with the IT team to get the computer fully functional, the object lesson on training began to dawn on me.
You see, I was (and still am) really excited about the change over from my old piece of crap Microsoft Surface to a shiny new Dell laptop. With more power, more storage, a better video card, and basically better everything else, my productivity would be noticeably increased. I was like a learner that is excited about a new change they just took training to understand. The change would be good and I was 100% behind it.
Like all change however, it had its deep pain points. Mired in the set-up of my new system, I began to doubt the wisdom of my decision to switch computers. For a short time, this believer in change suddenly became an opponent to it, only because I encountered unexpected obstacles and didn’t immediately see a way through them. I moved from supporter to detractor in the blink of an eye as I faced down the pile of work I wasn’t getting done.
Then, late in the afternoon, Zach swooped in and saved me. Major issues solved, I was suddenly back in the game and moving towards full functionality. Looking back, it’s interesting to analyze the swings in my outlook on the day. Those same swings are what people go through when faced with a new project, a change in procedures, or even a new boss (I just got one of those too.)
As trainers and managers, it’s important to recognize people will face these swings, and do our best to manage the change and help them expect, prepare for, and overcome the obstacles. What’s the old saying – forewarned is forearmed? Set expectations. Help people prepare. Be okay with frustrations and set-backs, but work to overcome them with open communication and realistic timelines. Also, don’t be afraid to tap an expert to overcome obstacles you can’t face alone.
Change is hard. Failing change is harder.