Sunday, November 7, 2010

How Many Pages is a Job Aid?

I feel that sometimes we attempt to make training more complicated than it has to be.  I recently was asked to develop training for using a closed circuit TV system.  The manufacturer’s user guide is a few hundred pages long.  I found out specifically what the end user needed to know to do their jobs.  Turns out they required only about five pieces of knowledge and skill.  I focused my training on those items and ended up with an eleven page document with a skills assessment check list at the end.  Very simple and it does what they asked this training to do.
Ironically the training department’s expectation was a “job aid”.  Many organizations think of job aids as “one pagers” or single page documents.  I think this is a misnomer about job aids; job aids are anything that helps a learner perform their job.  It could be a cheat sheet that sits on the top of their computer keyboard, a sign on the wall or like in this case a few pages about how to do a particular task.  I think we get stuck with expectations of our clients rather than building a training solution that is right for the training problem.  If a single page is all that is required; you are wasting the learner’s time to give them too much, if one page isn’t enough than more is required.  It really is that simple.