Friday, 2 May 2003

Newsletter Issue 61, May 2003

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 61, May 2003
Hi guys,
Have some training needs coming up? Then check out How We Learn below for a few pointers.
Developing a layout for a customer? Then you may need to create Dummy Text. Find the easiest way  below
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

How We Learn

As you may know - all people do not learn the same way. So if you are conducting training, you need to have thought about some things & gathered some information first. You need to know;
  • How your people do their jobs
  • How your people best retain information
  • How critical the training is
  • What you want your people to get from the training
  • What information you want your people to have access to after the training is complete
How your people do their jobs
Do you have job descriptions for your people who are being trained? Do you know enough about what your people do to give an accurate spec to a trainer? Without an accurate spec, the trainers will not understand how the job is done, so they won't know how to best teach the material; and consequently won't gain the respect of their audience. Respect for the trainer is critical for effective retention.
Is this training necessary? Are they going to use it straight away? If not, then delay the training. It probably won't be remembered when your people need to use it. 
Can you train a few people and then have them share the information with the rest of the staff? Can you trust the people trained to relate the information effectively? Have you made time for them to do this? If you don't specifically set aside the time for training in the workplace, it is likely that it won't happen.

How your people best retain information
Basically we humans break down into three main learning styles:
  • Visual (need to see things, colour-conscious, possibly artistic, sometimes find conversation or instructions hard to remember or get the wrong gist and may be somewhat phonophobic)
  • Auditory (need to hear things, enjoy sound and music, find reading comprehension and written communication hard, are poor body and facial language interpreters)
  • Kinaesthetic/Tactile (need to touch things, able to assemble kitsets without the instructions, find inactivity very difficult, like to be physically active, may be co-ordinated and good at sport)
We each usually have a stronger preference for one particular learning style, but have elements of all three (if you want to take a simple test to find out what your learning style is likely to be, go to for a test form).
Organisations who are trying to train staff usually do things the cheapest way. And these days the cheapest way tends to be putting information online.
This is no guarantee that the information will be retained by the person who is supposed to learn it - you will train the Visual sector of your people only. You need to conduct staff training to cover the other learning styles of your staff. You can do this by;
  • Using experiential training - workshopping the new computer programme, role playing the customer service techniques, so that kinaesthetic staff can literally get to grips with what you want them to learn
  • Using discussion groups - allow your auditory staff to learn best by group discussions about the new project, how the computer system works or how to achieve the best quality scores
  • Recording audio tapes - auditory learners will retain a huge amount of information from this method
  • Recording videos - all types of learners will benefit by watching videos without other distractions. You can combine sound, the written word and actions on screen. It can be repeated until understanding is reached. Kinaesthetics learn well because they can move and practice actions while watching, auditory people because they can clearly hear the instruction, visuals can see clearly. 

How critical the training is
Is the training mission-critical? If so, then you need to ensure it is undertaken in the most professional, suited to the audience and thorough manner you can. Which will cost, of course.
If training is a "nice to have" you can be more relaxed about the delivery methods, and perhaps ask your staff how they would like to learn the material. You can then experiment and work on team-building at the same time.

What you want your people to get from the training
You need to decide your desired outcomes BEFORE you start the training process. It's like driving: if you don't know where you are going, how will you know when you have arrived?
Decide what it is that your staff need to learn from the session. And then ask them afterwards to find out if that was the message they received. If they haven't received the right message, you can either put some more skull-sweat into it and repeat the training until you get the message across, or hire in a professional trainer (sometimes we all need to realise that we are not good at everything!).
Have a review meeting on the training a week after completion to embed it, and then a month later. Refresher sessions will immensely increase retention.

What information your people need to have access to after training completion
The biggest problem in any training is "what do I do after the trainer is gone?" 
Have back-up materials and notes for staff to refer to. Put the materials onto your company intranet, or keep a few copies of videos & tapes, or hardcopies of notes at work for reference. 
If your training was on a system, communicate on-going information via a regular newsletter or meeting to highlight problems and solutions.
If you have used a professional trainer, can you organise a "help desk" contract for follow-up queries?
And lastly, empower your people by asking them their views on the training. Adopt critique and learn from it for next time. 
If you are prepared to change training as staff needs change, your staff are more likely to be relaxed about change as well.
Good luck!

Generating Dummy Text

When you're experimenting with different fonts, margins, and layouts in a Word document, you don't really want to be wasting time by keying "sample" or dummy text manually. 
There are some shortcuts to creating dummy text;
  • You can key in a text string, then key Ctrl & Y to repeat your "word", or 
  • Key a few of sentences and highlight, copy using Ctrl & C and paste using Ctrl & V, or
  • Use Word 2000's RAND function: =RAND( x,y) Replace "x" with the number of dummy paragraphs you want and "y" with the number of sentences you want in each paragraph. 
    • At the left margin of your document, for 10 paragraphs of five sentences each, key =RAND(10,5) 
    • Key Enter
    • Word creates the 10 paragraphs of 5 sentences of "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" in your document
    • NB: This RAND function will automatically place two spaces between sentences
Have fun!

Roger Wilco

For those of you who don't know where that old saying, "Roger, Wilco" comes from, prepare to be elucidated!
"Roger" comes from the Morse code phonetic alphabet letter for R. The phonetic alphabet was "Able, Baker, Charlie... Roger" etc.
In the Morse alphabet, "R" was a short code for meaning "Message received". Later, when the Morse alphabet was sucked into US Military jargon,  the meaning was changed to "message received and understood". 
The "Wilco" is short for "Will comply" - radio short-talk. Both words "Roger Wilco" were used by the US forces in WWII, but even more importantly, by Hollywood, who brought it to the ROTW (Rest of the World). 
The really interesting thing is that neither "Roger" nor Able nor Baker was taken through to the new Phonetic Alphabet which is Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot... Romeo... etc.
Yet Roger still survives in use, although few people now know where "Roger" actually comes from...

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • ROTW, Rest of the World
  • Tb, Terabyte. "Tera" is a prefix multiplier most commonly used with "byte", to denote IT storage size. One Terabyte equals 1000 Gigabytes (a Pt, Petabyte, is 1000 Terabytes).

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
All the Function keys for you again, but this time we are shifting as well - all you can do with Alt, Shift, Ctrl & F12;
  • Excel, Word, Access, Outlook, PowerPoint "Display the Print dialog box" CTRL & SHIFT & F12 
  • Excel, Word, Access, Outlook, PowerPoint "Display the Save as dialog box" F12
  • Excel, Word, Access, Outlook, PowerPoint "To save a database object" SHIFT & F12
  • Excel, Word, Access, Outlook, PowerPoint "Display the Open dialog box" CTRL & F12
Hot Linx
Any of you who live in the Nelson City Council area can go to this link, click that you accept the conditions, and then look at an aerial view of your property. Very interesting.
Need to translate something from another language into English or vice versa? Then Babelfish's free translation service at Alta Vista is for you. Check it out at 
For some online testing & information on learning styles, try these sites;

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here