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How to Update Your Employee Training Without Stressing Everyone Out




The most common thing we deal with here at Hickory is my chocolate cravings. It’s bad. We make emergency runs to Whole Foods for the special Icelandic bars with sea salt. If you haven’t had them, I recommend.The second most common thing we deal with is a need to update training courses because of a policy change or product update

Often these changes come hot and fast—requiring customer service to immediately change what they’re doing.

The leadership needs to communicate the new policy and changes fast—so customer service reps can begin operating with the new guidelines.

Dealing with Change

Product updates and policy changes can be big or small, temporary or permanent. In the best organizations, urgent updates are relatively rare. Products are released on a reliable update schedule, and everyone usually has a good idea of what’s coming.

But every company has a fire drill from time to time.

That’s why it’s so important your training program can communicate changes quickly and effectively to everyone who needs them.

To help you deal with these kinds of situations, we’ve put together our 5 best recommendations for what to do when your company needs to change its training—and fast.

  1. Know Your Organization

The first step is to evaluate and accept the type of organization you’re working in.

If you step back and think about it, your organization will fall into one of the following four categories:

  1. Predictable updates with small changes
  2. Predictable updates with massive changes
  3. Unpredictable updates with small changes
  4. Unpredictable updates with massive changes

Hopefully, your company’s leadership is working toward becoming a “green” organization, one with predictable updates and small changes. But you might find yourself in a “red” organization instead, struggling to keep up with a constant flow of unpredictable updates and massive changes.

Knowing your environment will change how you react when any kind of change comes through—large or small.

  1. In Predictable Environments, Use Weekly Recaps

If you’re lucky enough to be in a type 1 or type 2 organization, we recommend using a routine “weekly recap” lesson on all changes that have come through in the past week.

The nice thing about a weekly recap is that managers know to prep for it, and the users know to log in and look for it. This way everyone is on a reliable schedule and knows what to do. You can even plan for it in your team calendar.

  1. Ask Additional Questions

Think through the changes being made. Then ask yourself:

  • What kind of change is it?
  • Is this a big change or small change?
  • Is this a permanent change or temporary change?
  • Am I making an entire shift in my refund policy, or am I just updating a few policies for the holidays?

If you’re making a large change, you’ll need to go back and update old training lessons. You’ll also need to create new lessons that walk customer service reps through the difference between the old and new information.

For temporary changes, cover the key points and let them know when the normal protocols will come back into play.

  1. In Unpredictable Environments, Prioritize Key Information

If you’re in an unpredictable environment (and unfortunately, many are), we strongly recommend drilling down to key points for your team whenever updates come through.

In these situations, clarity is your goal.

When fire drills happen, you usually don’t have time to put together a serious training for your team.When that happens, make sure you communicate the key points of the change—because those key points are the information your team needs the most to do their jobs effectively.It’s challenging. You’ll naturally want to throw everything that’s happened into a new training, but when you take that approach in a tight timeline, the key points get buried in the morass of details, and you end up getting nothing across to your customer service reps.In these situations, ask yourself:

  • What are the key points, the things I cannot get wrong about this change?
  • Who needs to know the information?

Focus your team on getting just these critical points. Later, when things calm down, you can go back and fill in any blanks for them.

  1. Measure Results

After you release the training update, you’ll want to measure the following things:

  • Who saw the updated lessons (should be 100%)
  • Who understood the key points
  • How well did they remember them?

Hickory does all of these things automatically. Our algorithm lets you know when users log in, how well they understand the material, and if they’re likely to retain the new information over time. If there are issues in key point clarity or learner confidence, Hickory will work with you to correct this.

Measure and Optimize

These are the procedures we recommend for all our users, even those who don’t work directly with our in-house team for their setup. The big thing is to be able to recognize what type of team you are and what type of update it is, and then make sure that the key points are clearly outlined. From there, all you have to do is measure and optimize.

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