Why IT needs to teach employees to fish

How rethinking IT employee support, training pays off

IT can deliver much more value and be far more effective than simply providing colleagues with logons and basic report access.

In order to do that, CIOs need to rethink the way IT trains and supports colleagues, write leadership experts Andrew Horne and Brian Foster in Harvard Business Review:

"IT is asked to deliver ever more capable tools for collaboration and analytics, but no one is responsible for ensuring employees have the skills to use them. The result is wasted investment, and an IT team that once again faces questions about value."

Foster and Horne argue that a new approach to training and support will yield greater returns on collaboration and analytics tools via improved productivity and insight.

The pair's key tips:

Assess user readiness

When employees request access to collaboration software, evaluate their ability to collaborate. Foster and Horne suggest a checklist that "measures the clarity of the team's objectives and workplans, and the strength of the relationship and communications between team members. It is used to flag potential problems within the team that can be remedied before the tool is deployed."

A team that's not prepared to work together or cannot express their goals will not benefit from even the greatest collaboration tools.

Hire IT pros who can coach

Your IT staff should not only know the technology, but also have the communication and interpersonal skills to teach their peers how to use tools, interpret data and get the most out of software.

Teach for maximum ROI

Foster and Horne argue IT should educate teams on how to use a tool to make decisions, not just how to log on and run reports that they can’t interpret thoroughly. The pair cite one leading retailer whose IT department "runs roadshows where employees learn how to capture new customer insights from a particular data asset, and provides e-learning with tips and tricks on spotting when data may be misleading."

via Harvard Business Review

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