It can be easy to justify not scheduling time to sit through technology training. You have logged in before, and it seems intuitive enough, right? Why bother sitting through a potentially dull training when you can teach yourself how to use the tool?
Technology training builds capacity
Untrained staff members may waste time looking for makeshift solutions to their technology needs. They may be unaware of features that exist within the technology tools that can make their jobs easier or more efficient. You’re not getting a great return on your technology investment if the people who use it aren’t aware of how to maximize their time using it or if your software company doesn’t provide ongoing support for all of your questions and needs. When you make the time for training, you free up future time for other work that helps your nonprofit achieve its mission.
Even with years of experience, you could be missing key knowledge
A lot of the time, you can get by without training. When you bought your current cell phone, you probably didn’t take a class on how to use it (though, awesomely, such classes are often available through community ed for new users). The times we live in have given you a lot of technology experience, and it seems redundant to get trained in concepts that have become second nature to you. But although you can absorb enough information to get a working understanding about technology through using and exploring it on your own, you can miss out on some important functions.
I learned most of what I know about WordPress through experience. WordPress is designed to be easy for non-techy people to pick up and use, but because I didn’t have any formal training, it was two or three years before I realized it includes a Schedule Post option. Thanks to taking a class, I learned about this very simple yet completely vital feature that I had totally missed out on. At the time, I was the only person on staff with even minimal WordPress experience, so if I had questions about its functions or if a change needed to be made to the website I would often have to Google around (while juggling my many other responsibilities at the nonprofit) or, if the issue was too advanced for me, we would pay an outside freelancer to fix it for us. It was an inefficient process that didn’t really allow me a chance to gain a complete understanding of the tool I was working with.
When my employer offered to pay for me to take a one-day WordPress class, I jumped at the opportunity to get to know the tool better. It ended up being a mindblowing experience. Sure, the class covered a lot of things I already knew, but it also went into features I had missed out on – like the Schedule Post option. How could I have missed that? Even more importantly, the class afforded me the opportunity to ask questions about WordPress I couldn’t ask anyone at work. The class was small so we were able to get as much individual help as we needed, and the very attentive teacher had me log into my account so I could show him some of the issues I had been having with my employer’s website. In no time, all of my questions were answered, and I left the class with a great sense of relief and hope. I had learned a lot about WordPress by trial and error, but adding to that knowledge with formal training was an invaluable experience because of the one-on-one attention I received.
Take the time for training
What features might your database have that you don’t know about, or aren’t sure how to use, because you haven’t had formal training yet? Without training you may be unaware of functions that could make your work way more efficient or easier (like how I didn’t know WordPress lets you schedule a post ahead of time). Trying to find workarounds or makeshift solutions to your technology issues can become a big waste of staff time, and training can help solve that problem. Dedicating a half hour or a full hour to training can help save you future hours trying to figure out how to do something, or do something more efficiently, on your own later. A short training session can have a huge impact on the way you use your technology. You might be surprised by what you learn!
Does your tech company support you?
Check with your software provider to see what kinds of initial and ongoing training they offer. Choices may include live webinars, classes, and one-on-one sessions for more intensive training. Ask if they offer free training for new employees or refreshers for staff members who have been using the software for a while. Videos are another common offering that can be of great benefit, but the downside is they don’t allow you the opportunity to ask questions. When everyone receives training, there’s less time wasted on searching for solutions and more time to create an impact with your amazing nonprofit work.