Common Mistakes When Implementing Find & Follow Training
You’re on your way to implementing a ScreenSteps knowledge base using the Find & Follow Training Framework. Congratulations!
It takes courage to try something new. You might be anxious thinking about all the work ahead and you don’t want to make a mistake. But, the work ahead will be worth it.
Luckily, others have gone before you and paved the road so that it will be easier for you than it was for them. In other words, they’ve made mistakes and learned what works and what doesn’t when implementing the Find & Follow approach.
And as the Director of Transformational Services at ScreenSteps, I’ve witnessed some of the mistakes. I’m here to help you prevent these mistakes from happening.
By sharing some of the common mistakes, the hope is you’ll be able to make plans to avoid them. I’ve broken the mistakes into five categories, according to the different phases of Find & Follow Training.
Tip: Bookmark this article in your browser so you can reference the warnings as you work on each phase of your Find & Follow implementation.
Before you do anything with your new knowledge base or training program, you first need to plan. A well-planned Find & Follow will help implementation run smoother and yield better results. Here are eight common mistakes with planning to watch out for.
1. Not hosting a Planning Workshop
Every company that uses documentation needs to start with a Find & Follow Planning Workshop. During the Workshop, you identify what tasks the trainee needs to be able to do in their role. This helps you figure out what needs to be documented and what needs to be covered in training.
2. Training, operations, and QA teams don’t coordinate together
Part of the purpose of a Find & Follow Planning Workshop is to get your teams on the same page. If you don’t invite representatives from training, operations, and quality assurance to the planning discussion, you are going to overlook important guides and training assets you need to create.
3. Not getting buy-in from everyone
If you don’t get buy-in from every one, no new system is going to work. You need everyone on your team to be committed to following the principles of a Find & Follow Training Program.
4. Not having a deadline
It is easy to say that you’ll launch the new knowledge base when you are done creating the digital guides. However, when you don’t have a hard deadline, the launch day just gets farther and farther away. You need a launch date.
Tip: Don’t obsess over getting every article written for your knowledge base before launch. Follow the 80% Launch concept to launch faster and see a return on your investment sooner.
5. Not planning for a rollout strategy
All you have to plan for is the digital guides, right? Unfortunately, no. You need to plan when you will run user testing on the help guides, decide when you will add users to your knowledge base, and handle other implementation tasks.
6. Setting an unrealistic timeline
You don’t plan enough time for the person implementing your Find & Follow program. They still have all their other assignments, so they are overburdened with work.
Ideally, if you are going to assign someone to head up Find & Follow implementation, it is their one job. They don’t have other responsibilities or they can step back from those roles while they handle your implementation.
7. Not considering the context of when and where guides will be used
When do you need to create a training video vs a digital guide? When you don’t consider the goal, you plan to create assets that ultimately don’t help your end-users complete their task.
For example, you wouldn’t create a training video for a step-by-step procedure that an employee needs to do while speaking with a customer (either in person or over the phone). An employee doesn’t have time to watch a video when they are helping a customer, so instead, you would need simple job aid, checklist, or conversation flow.
8. Overlooking simple questions
You don’t consider all the questions that are coming up. If you think a question is too obvious, it probably still needs a knowledge base article. Both simple and complex procedures need to be documented.
Even if the answer is as simple as, “No. We don’t offer that,” make that into an article. If somebody needs that answer, they need that answer.
After you have your plans set, it’s time to start creating. For your Find & Follow Training Program, you’ll need to create digital guides, training assets, and courses. Be careful not to fall into these six traps while building your content.
1. Not breaking up your guides
It’s tempting to keep multiple procedures in one guide because they are connected. However, that makes it more difficult for your end-users to find the guide they need. Plus, it makes the topic too broad and you end up capturing too many details.
Don’t put more than one procedure in a knowledge base article. This will prevent you from making your help guides too long. You need enough detail to help your end-user handle a task from start to finish — nothing more.
2. Not following best practices for writing digital guides
Writing help guides is a particular skill. Make sure you understand what makes a knowledge base article good. Some best practices for writing guides include using:
- Screenshots or visuals
- Titles that use natural language
- Checklists for going through a process
For additional guidance on how to write findable, followable, and scannable guides, watch this free webinar on how to give your digital guides an extreme makeover.
Writing Tip: If someone asks you a question, you should write your document with how you would respond to that person in chat.
3. Not taking advantage of the authoring tools
Use the authoring tools that your knowledge base has to offer. What are your options? Use different styles of articles, headings, indentations, highlights, etc.
If you are using ScreenSteps for your knowledge base, one tool you won’t want to miss is the integrated screen capture tool. It will help you capture and annotate screenshots faster, saving you a lot of time.
4. Focusing on appearance and formatting more than function
It doesn’t matter if your guides look beautiful if nobody can follow them. It matters more that your guides help people do their jobs. Your guides are end-user focused.
5. Skipping user acceptance testing
User acceptance testing is essential to the success of your Find & Follow program. You’ll want to run user acceptance testing on articles early on in your documentation practice. This will help redirect your writing if the guides are confusing.
When you run a user acceptance test, you verify that:
- Guides are complete (not missing any steps)
- They are easy to find
- They are easy for end-users to follow without getting stuck.
6. Having one person write all the content
Don’t put the responsibility of writing all of your digital guides on one person. People often want to control the whole documentation process, but the cost is it takes a lot longer to get it done.
Instead, create templates and set up an approval process for articles. Recruit other people to write articles. Use subject matter experts, team leads, etc. Assign them specific articles to write.
C. Running the training
Once you have your guides documented and the training curriculum prepared, it’s time to roll out the Find & Follow approach to your company. Set dates for training, and avoid making these six mistakes.
1. Not doing enough practice activities
One or two practice scenarios for each skill aren’t going to cut it. You may still be tempted to fill the time with lectures — resist the temptation.
Your trainees need repetition. During the practice activities, they are simulating real-life scenarios they will eventually be handling on the job. Every training I’ve been a part of, the employees have requested to do more hands-on training.
2. Not having learners figure out which guide to use
Trainees, especially customer service employees, need to learn how to discern what is being asked. They need to be able to identify the scenario, find the appropriate guide, and follow the guide to complete the task.
3. Jumping in to help learners too early
Let your learners struggle. I know it is hard, but the struggle is part of the learning process. They will soon be on their own, so they need to learn to problem-solve on their own.
4. Not updating your guides as you go
As you go through practice scenarios, you will identify areas where your guides are unclear. If your guides are confusing learners and causing them to get stuck, update those guides in the moment.
Your ScreenSteps knowledge base software makes it easy to update your guides in minutes. Then you immediately have a refreshed, clarified article that new hires can follow.
5. Not using realistic scenarios to practice
You don’t need to make up situations for your employees to practice. Use real scenarios that your employees have encountered in the past.
6. Focusing on atypical scenarios
Don’t spend too much time in areas that make up a small percentage of what employees are dealing with. Focus your time on the 80% they need to be proficient in procedures that happen all the time.
You can introduce them to complex scenarios that are rare, but you don’t need to dwell on those for days. If anything, they can ask others for help while on the job when they get those whacky scenarios.
By mastering the common situations, your employees will be able to handle 80-90% of the situations they encounter. And learning how to follow the guides will make handling complex scenarios easier in the future because they know how to follow instructions.
You’ve completed training, so now you’re done, right? Wrong! Knowledge management and the Find & Follow approach is an ongoing project. Creating a Find & Follow Organization means making sure your knowledge base stays healthy and your training is fresh.
While optimizing your content, be careful to avoid these five mistakes.
1. Not looking at reports
You don’t regularly review your analytics and reports. These will give you insights into who is using your knowledge base and which articles they are looking at. It can also help you identify articles that need to be optimized.
2. Not addressing comments
Ideally, your knowledge base software has a way for end-users to communicate outdated information on articles or confusing instructions. The content authors should be aware of when these comments come in, respond to them, and update articles accordingly.
3. Never certifying your articles
Your policies and procedures are frequently changing. You need to regularly update guides so that they don’t get outdated with inaccurate information.
4. Not continuing to create new articles for gaps
As people use your knowledge base, you’ll notice that you have articles missing. These are gaps of missing knowledge. As questions arise, create new articles for those questions and put them in your knowledge base.
5. Not creating courses
Now that you’ve gone through training, you’ll want to create a repeatable training course. Leverage courses to help fill in knowledge gaps and correct performance.
WARNING: Don’t create training courses that should be step-by-step guides. If you need to show them where to click and what to do, you shouldn’t be creating a video — you should write a digital guide.
For Find & Follow to have its full effect, there are certain best practices you need to follow. Here are three things to be cautious about.
1. Not enforcing employees to use the guide every time
As a supervisor, it’s natural to just want to answer the question. Instead, leaders need to get in the habit of asking, “Did you search the knowledge base?” They need to refer employees to ScreenSteps and reinforce using the guide. They can even message them a direct link to the article.
Find & Follow teaches employees how to be self-sufficient so that they can work more effectively and efficiently. If employees are still relying on their supervisors for answers, your training and knowledge base aren’t being effectively used.
2. No consequence if people don’t use the guides
If employees are doing jobs throughout the day, it’s understandable that they’ll get some muscle memory of those jobs and may not need to pull up a guide for help. But what happens when they are regularly making mistakes? Or even if they make one big mistake?
Well, if the guides show the proper way to do the job and an employee isn’t using it, then you need to enforce a consequence. If there is no one enforcing the use of your digital guides, then they will be neglected or forgotten.
For example, consequences could involve being dinged an extra point in a QA evaluation if they made a mistake and neglected to pull up the guide to follow.
3. Not getting executive endorsement
To get the full benefits of becoming a Find & Follow Organization, you need support from the top down. You need buy-in at every level. That means your team is committed to the principles taught in Find & Follow.
Never miss a step with a ScreenSteps coach
Adopting the Find & Follow Training Framework can be a game-changer for your organization. It helps you put your end-users first so that you can train faster and increase employee performance.
It can be challenging to adopt a new documentation and training methodology. We have experts who can help.
Our experts know the signs for when your Find & Follow implementation is veering off-course. With a ScreenSteps coach, you can ensure you are on the right track and avoid missing steps.
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