What do you need to do? v. What do you need to know?

One of the perks of taking a position which is brand new to an organization is having the freedom to shape it according to how you do your best work. The downside is that there’s no clear pathway or any existing materials–the only resources are your coworkers and, if you’re lucky, some sense of what has and has not worked in the past.

When my previous boss came into his role (as my supervisor, but also one of the University’s AVPs), he made a point to meet, even for just a few minutes, with every person within his division. This helped him learn his staff and their abilities but also gauge the culture of the organization. I’ve adopted this slightly in my new role as I’ve made the rounds around my coworkers, but as a trainer, I want to know the whats:

What do you need to do?
What do you need to know?

But these aren’t questions that many people can answer off the bat without some level of self-reflection or a high degree of cognition. Also, when you’re expected to plan training for an entire college, it’s unrealistic to expect to make the rounds to the hundreds of staff and faculty. So, we’re gonna do a survey.

The challenges with the survey are numerous, but it’s the most effective way to get people’s attention and hopefully their responses. The biggest challenge is conveying the questions accurately–I’m a huge advocate of the Steve Jobs idea that people don’t know what they want until you show them–so that’s the logic behind the open answer questions (I know, I know…sifting through a million open ended responses might not be the most advantageous thing, but I’m limited to SharePoint’s abilities).

So there are the usual suspects (what time works best for you? What applications would you like to learn (with list of ideas). But it’s the above topic that I’m really driving toward, and that’s where the questions are hard to articulate. The point of this question is to try and get to the heart of what they want to get out of training. The idea is that there are probably things they do daily, but aren’t sure that they’re doing it correctly, or know that there are better ways but they haven’t had training on it for whatever reasons. Here are two versions of it:

  • Specific to technology, are there activities or job duties you perform, but think might be aided through some sort of training?

  • Specific to technology what is something you’d like to do differently / more efficiently?

Which version do you prefer? Or should I ask both and see what comes back?

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s