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Memory Retention: Instructional Design Tips #4: User Engagement – Stick and Lures


Dr. Michael

Hanchett Hanson

Everyone is busy, and one of the most important benefits of Hickory is that it is so efficient. Reviews generally take less than two minutes a day. Completing a lesson, usually 5-8 minutes. Users repeatedly tell Hickory that they like the platform as a way of learning because it is so quick and easy and we often hear “I actually feel like I’m learning.” Which is a bit odd when you think about it. Until using Hickory becomes a habit, though, it is one more thing competing for time. And a memory retention system only works if employees use it.

Therefore, user engagement is crucial to the success of Hickory in your organization. We use five strategies to maximize use of Hickory:

  • Setting user expectations.
  • Aligning Hickory with training milestones.
  • Managers conveying the importance of Hickory..
  • Making users active stakeholders.
  • Making the experience fun.

In previous posts I’ve written about setting user expectations and aligning with milestones. Here, I want to talk about conveying managers expectations and making users stakeholders.

Convey the importance of this training.

Employees tend to rely on their managers’ to set priorities. If users do not sense management enthusiasm for Hickory, they are likely to put off reviews again and again. To convey that enthusiasm, Hickory asks managers to introduce the program to their employees. Then the key is follow through. The manager dashboard on Hickory as a “To Do” section that can be customized for each organization. The manager to-do list can bring up when a particular employee is doing well in completing reviews, getting high scores or both. The system can be set up so that by clicking one button a congratulatory email goes to that person or maybe a gift card. If someone has not completed his or her lessons, again by clicking a button the manager can send a reminder. (Hickory will be sending reminders but one from your boss means more.) Or, maybe an employee is using Hickory but having difficulty with some of the material in the reviews. The manager may want to suggest that the user go back and review the original Hickory lesson again or look at other training material.

Managers can also use Hickory results to help customize coaching sessions. Check on where the employee may be having trouble and where the strengths in knowledge may be. Hickory can even design special lessons that are all short answer (type in free response answers). The answers are available on your dashboard so that you can see exactly how an employee responds to the situation, note positive and problematic patterns and then address them.

Finally, managers need to continue to talk up the use of Hickory – ask for feedback and encourage use of Hickory during staff meetings. Discuss any questions where employees are tending to have difficulty. Manager enthusiasm is particularly important during the first months after an organization starts using Hickory. Soon, employees talk about themselves and enthusiasm spreads among them. Manager enthusiasm remains important but not as much of a driving force once the employees as a group see how useful the system is.

Making Users Active Stakeholders

In line with the last point, asking users what they need from Hickory and what lessons they find helpful or not can strengthen their buy-in. The Hickory team periodically sends out a survey to users and schedules short feedback calls with them. This takes on another dimension, however, when the employees’ managers solicit feedback on how to use the tool. Some of these discussions can occur after the Hickory surveys and build on those findings, and Hickory staff is always willing to participate in any user discussions.

Now we have covered four of the five user engagement strategies. The next post on Instructional Design Tips will be fun!

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