Six tips for the care and training of new users

Got a new user? As a responsible IT organization you have to recognize that this is a big responsibility.

Congratulations! You've just got a new user!

As a responsible IT organization you have to recognize that this is a big responsibility. Your user is probably nervous in his new surroundings and doesn't know how to behave in his new IT environment.

Whatever Human Resources has told him can't possibly prepare him for what he needs to know in your digital environment and he's probably already developed bad habits from wherever he was before. Your job is to make sure he's going to become a happy productive worker who won't complain and ask dumb questions and make dumb mistake that will aggravate you.

To help you train your new user I have six tips that will ensure your user stays out of your hair, knows his place, and doesn't waste your valuable time.

  1. Listen to your new user. If your new user doesn't understand the computing environment you have for him, don't get exasperated and angry. Give him a training course or, better yet, get another of your users to train and mentor him. The sooner he feels connected to the pack -- the rest of the users -- the better (and the less of a problem he'll be).
  2. Be generous with your support: ... at least in the beginning. You don't want him to develop an "us against them" attitude because, if he's in any way an "alpha" user (say, a senior manager or vice president), he could well start to turn the rest of the pack against you.
  3. Be flexible. Just because your other users grok the applications you've sanctioned doesn't mean the new boy will. Maybe he's not comfortable with Microsoft Word 10 (and who really is?). Maybe he was trained on Word 2003 and has never dealt with anything else. Be understanding; a new software diet might upset his system. Introduce new software carefully.
  4. Show him what you're willing to do rather than doing what he wants you to do. While there's nothing wrong with saying "no" you never want to actually say it. You'll just get him worked up and resistive. Persuade him with arguments like, "but that's what the CEO wants." He'll soon get with the program.
  5. Be consistent. Make sure all of your support staff know how far to go in supporting him. If one tech says "yes" while another says "no" the mixed messages will confuse him.
  6. Be realistic about his adaptation to a new environment. Introducing your new user to his new corporate family takes time and patience. Before you make his life hell for not getting with the program, give him that extra care and attention. If that doesn't work, then harsh discipline may be necessary. The first time his files disappear and IT shows him how it was his fault, he'll get the message.

Yes, getting a new user is fun and a challenge, but whether he'll wind up being a good user who is with the program and part of the pack depends on you and your mastery of the principles of user training.

Get your new user's training wrong and your time will be eaten up with demands and complaints and the rest of the pack may become fractious and unruly. But get him in the program from square one and everyone will be happy and productive.

Good luck.

Gibbs is pack master in Ventura, Calif. Training strategies at backspin@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter and App.net (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

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