Who's on 1st?!

August 25, 2022
Dave O'Connell
I had the good fortune to coach and play baseball/softball in the Northern VA area for 30 years. All levels, all ages, all abilities. And every effective coach I ever learned from, observed, and the one I tried to be, had three distinct opportunities each season to help prepare their team for success. You coached in practice, you coached during scrimmages, and you coached during the game. And if you did your job correctly, you did LESS coaching of your players as you progressed towards game time. Because you prepared them previously during practices and scrimmages.

When I coached in practice, we did drills; we had stations where you hit, stations where you threw, pitched, caught fly balls, practice grounders, footwork, base stealing, the three options for a catcher with a runner on 1st and 3rd and less than two outs (don’t get me started!), etc.

When I coached scrimmages myself and the other “opposing” coach would slow the game down. We’d correct things during the “game”, help each-other’s players out, point out opportunities for improvement – and most importantly, get our players used to what it was going to be like in a game-like environment. But, with still time to improve and learn.

And games…let ‘em go. Yes, you do some in game instruction of your players, some tweaks and encouragement, but if you’ve done the other two levels well, the games are for the player to PLAY.

But guess what, the cycle repeats, because the week after the game, or at least before the next one, you’d have a practice, and you’d work on what you needed to improve.

So how does this apply to software training? Well, your employees are the players, the software is the sport, and the coach is the trainer. And let’s take the example of a large software platform as the “sport”. Something like a full-blown AMS or CRM Implementation or a transition to Microsoft 365 from Office Desktop or maybe the adoption of a new website CMS.

What you need to ask yourself when using any trainer or training org is this; is the trainer going to do what they need to do to be an effective coach? Does the trainer have a plan for introducing you to the “sport”? Are they going to give you a chance to “practice” on the stock system? If they do incorporate all these elements, then you’ll be able to get comfortable with your software and guess what – you be able to intelligently converse with the implementation team as they build you configured solution. So “practice” equals effective exposure and that leads to better adoption.

So, what is the “scrimmage”? The scrimmage is UAT and really, it could extend into Go-Live Training. It is the time players adjust and make corrections – change the form layouts, add fields, fix bugs, etc because the players are going at the system like it is for real. A good trainer will develop effective exercises and ensure the training is done on a “close to ready” test environment. This again guarantees that the “players”, employees, are comfortable. They are getting ready for game time.

And the game. Post Go-Live. It’s a loooong game. But IF you get the correct training provider, it is NOT the end of coaching. Every player keeps on improving, keeps learning. They learn new strategies and ask advanced questions. If you have a good coach/trainer, they will continue to interact and have scheduled “practices” or office hours for Q&A. And have you watched a major league game, or for that matter, ANY sport lately…what are they looking at when they are on the bench? Video, that’s what. They are constantly reviewing their performance. So, what if you “tape” the Go-Live or update training and break it into small chunks? Now your players are practicing without having to wait for the coach. And when the coach does show, they are ready with advanced questions. And hey, if a new person joins the team, they can catch up quickly (onboard).

So, get the right trainer/training org for your team. You’d be amazed at how much smoother the team will play with some good coaching!
Fairfax, VA 
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