How to keep up – the importance of ongoing training for existing staff
In so many law firms there is a good emphasis on new starter training which is great, but we must never forget the existing workforce! Your new recruit has successfully completed all the induction set training programmes and set off to their new department trained to the max.
Beware of learned short cuts
In a very short space of time, the newer recruit is likely to have either started to forget some of the training, especially for those rarely used features, or witnessed others around them doing things differently. What they may be witnessing is what looks like an easier or quicker way, whereas these short cuts are actually potentially missing out vital checks or features on your systems.
Over time it is also highly likely that existing staff may feel that investment in their ongoing training has been forgotten slightly, so to continue with ongoing training and skills development really does support a feeling of still being valued.
It may be that you are implementing a version update or technical upgrade of an existing system. Just because it’s the same system it doesn’t mean it will work in the same way for the end-user. It is vital that your lawyers and support staff are fully briefed on why, when and how before any upgrade takes place.
The typical challenges a law firm faces when delivering ongoing training are:
- In the event of an update or upgrade ensuring that all staff are effectively and successfully trained BEFORE go live is essential. For many law firms this is some hundreds or thousands of end users, sometimes working across multiple offices and/or a large geographical area.
- This will become an increasing challenge for law firms investing in SaaS software platforms where the IT architecture usefully allows for much more regular and easier updates – but this doesn’t necessarily make it easier for end-users to keep up with interface or functionality changes.
- To ensure that new efficiency and risk management benefits of the original investment are carried through to good end-user adoption, training has to match the increasing cadence of new functionality.
- You won’t want your firm grinding to a halt on the day of go- live after an upgrade as no one knows how the system now works!
- Lack of time! As much as your existing staff want to feel they are still invested in, fee earners themselves just don’t have the time to spend attending classroom training.
- Lack of time again! As much as your existing staff want to feel they are still invested in, the training team if you have one don’t have the time to spend delivering classroom training for upgrades as they are focussed on new software projects.
- Senior people may feel their time is too valuable from a billing point of view to spend training. They want their support/secretarial/PA to do it for them or feel that the training they attend is tailored for them.
Elearning can play a crucial supporting role
Elearning is a great way of training without too much distraction. Your staff can stay sat at their desks, or even do some training on the move in otherwise ‘dead-time’ when travelling. Only the time taken to actually do the training is required. The organisation required and team disruption of moving to a meeting room and then ensuring that their work/telephone/desk is covered, is avoided.
Training needs assessments
By delivering ongoing training you will also be able to monitor and review the results of the training programmes that are completed by your staff. This in turn allows you to conduct a training needs assessment and perhaps even form a new component to your staff performance reviews that relects the importance of competant technology use for today’s lawyer and the firm they work for.
If online learning is on your agenda, wish list, or just if you are curious to find out more about potential benefits and what it involves do get it touch!
Katrina Bevan, Verdi Learn