Technology can be many things, including a rehab therapy clinic’s best friend. But it can also be a total nightmare if you don’t use the proper selection criteria or implement it successfully. Read on to learn how to train your staff on a new technology so everyone wins.

Choose Wisely

As Rob Bernshteyn, CEO of Coupa, points out in this Forbes article, “Week-long training classes just aren’t cool—or efficient. The most successful consumer products—iPhone, Kindle, Wii, etc.—lack a 100-page user manual and 24/7 IT buddy. Why should an enterprise application designed for employees (also known as consumers) be any different?“ According to Bernshteyn, “A new application should require minimal training and instead rely on the user’s intuition. The more intuitive a new solution is, the more it guides the user to a desired action or outcome—and greater use and adoption equals greater ROI for your organization.” So when you’re considering which tool, program, or system to implement for your practice—which EMR, perhaps—pay close attention to the training time requirements because that’s an indicator of how intuitive it is to use.

Tailor Your Curriculum

Teaching children is very different than teaching adults. Just ask American adult educator Malcolm Knowles, best known for his adoption and application of andragogy—the science of helping adults learn through tailoring one’s approach and curriculum to address the distinct and unique needs of grown-up learners. According to Knowles, adults:

  • are internally motivated and self-directed
  • bring life experiences and knowledge to learning situations<
  • are goal-oriented
  • are relevancy-oriented
  • are practical
  • want to be shown respect

As such, adults learn best when:

  • they know the importance of what they’re learning
  • they’re given the freedom to learn in their own way
  • their learning is experiential
  • the learning process is both positive and encouraging

Be a Cheerleader

Leave your pom poms at home. Instead, opt for a more realistic—albeit very positive—portrayal of the upcoming changes. Your employees will look to you for direction on how to feel and what to think about the new technology, and many will resist change simply because it’s change. Bernshteyn advises answering the “‘what’s in it for me?’ question for anyone you expect to use the software”—which is really just another way of ensuring your staff knows the importance of what they’re learning. He also suggests working “with your marketing team [if you have one] on a strong internal communications plan. Done right, people will see the value to the company and to themselves and ask to be part of it. And that’s what you want—a situation where resistance gives way to demand.”

Another key factor in creating a positive and encouraging training environment is to minimize your trainees’ stress levels. While you might feel the pressure of a go-live date quickly approaching, don’t transfer those emotions to your staff. After all, they have enough on their plate trying to learn—and retain—something brand new. So, smile, laugh, and enjoy the process—or at least pretend like you do.

Applaud Successes

Want your team to keep up the good work during training and beyond? Use positive reinforcement every step of the way.According to psychologist Dr. Martin Seidenfeld, “positive reinforcement both shapes behavior and enhances an employee’s self-image.” And if you use positive reinforcement immediately after someone learns something new, you’ll promote quick and thorough knowledge adoption.

Once the tool that you’ve been training your staff on is in place, Bernshteyn recommends measuring the results against an established baseline. While he focuses on finding areas that need improvement, we think it’s important to focus on areas of success. If it’s an EMR we’re talking about, measure how much time you’re saving on documentation; how many more referrals you’ve generated because your notes are professionally branded with your clinic logo; or how many more reimbursements you’ve received because your claims are cleaner. Find new reasons to cheer for your team’s successes on a regular basis and you’ll continue to reinforce everyone’s belief that the new technology you’ve introduced is worthwhile and more importantly, worthy of their desire to master it. Who knows what kind of new goals your clinic can reach if your team is as dedicated to learning and making the new technology work as you are.

What strategies have you used to train your staff on something new? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Tell us in the comment section below.