LED sign: "Habits to be made"
PHOTO: Drew Beamer

A widely used technique in the psychology of habit formation is integrating a new habit into an already established one. For example, if you want to add more fruits to your diet, you would eat an apple before taking a shower every morning. This way, since you take shower daily, it will be easier to eat a fruit daily.

Many companies are already successfully using the same technique to turn the activity of learning Office 365 into a habit. 

Hour-long training sessions are helpful for introducing key concepts about the platform and answering questions, but they won't help your organization achieve sustainable user adoption. Ongoing improvement for user adoption largely depends on organic continual training, not on periodic. However, it's hard to create and sustain training programs that are actually continual.

Regular Training Sessions Are Only Mildly Effective

A common approach in many organizations, especially in the period immediately after deployment, is to schedule monthly or weekly training sessions. Employees attend classes of 30 to 60 minutes where an instructor explains and demonstrates how to complete tasks using the platforms. Often, the same classes are repeated at reasonable intervals, especially on the most common tasks in the company.

Alas, this approach suffers from the same limitations as any classroom-based training approach: the overall training strategy tends to be too expensive and attendees forget most of what they learn 24 hours after a class. Also, in an effort to make the most out of the event, instructors tend to cram too much information into a single session, which further affects information retention rates. This training strategy is simply not sustainable in the long-term for most organizations.

By turning the learning activity into a daily habit, businesses can provide employees with true continual training.

Related Article: Is Microsoft Search the Solution to Finding Information in Office 365?

Keep Training Short and Sweet – and Daily

Automation will help in efforts to provide user training that is actually continual. Some of the widely used message-delivery automation tools include email autoresponders, Yammer Groups, SharePoint communication sites and contextual help systems. Providing training through these systems will make it part of a daily habit.

But to increase the stickiness of the training, you'll want to make every article, video tutorial or walkthrough consumable within five or 10 minutes. Keep training short and to-the-point, focused on showing the user how to complete one task only. It has to be something that can be viewed without much effort, in one sitting. If it is easy to do, it will be easy to repeat and, therefore, practical to turn into a tiny habit.

Delivering bite-sized training content has the added advantage of leading to easier consumption and higher information retention.

After improving automation and brevity, find a way to get employees to actually consume the tutorials that you deliver, daily.

To turn the learning activity into a daily habit, integrate it into another established daily habit that employees follow. To ensure the new habit sticks you may need to use more than one established habit as a carrier. Here are a few examples:

  • People read their email every day. You can instruct everyone in your workforce to view a tutorial right after they open their inbox, before reading any other email. Use an autoresponder to schedule and broadcast a daily email containing a link to a tutorial. The tutorials and all other training content can be hosted on your own training site or you can use the out-of-the-box training site, Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways. Schedule every email to be sent at 6 am or earlier so it can appear top of the list in their inboxes. Here is a typical scenario: if this tiny habit is formed, it will only take 12 weeks for everyone to view 115 SharePoint tutorials and be sufficiently proficient with the platform.
  • If your company is already Office-365 enabled, people probably open one of its popular applications on a daily basis to complete a common task. You can instruct everyone to first complete a training-related task before they get to any work-related task. Tasks may be anything: adding metadata in SharePoint, inviting a colleague to a project in Teams, finding an internal expert in Yammer, etc. Learning by doing is the most effective way of learning.
  • Certain companies, departments and teams hold regular meetings. Integrate a new learning habit into this practice by having everyone watch a video tutorial before a meeting starts, or, view a tutorial before coming to attend the meeting.

There are sure to be more opportunities to introduce new learning habits in your company — observe how people work and find those established daily habits which can act as carriers. More importantly, remember to establish an incentive program that rewards the most punctual leaners. Reward motivates action.

Related Article: How to Create a Sense of Urgency Around Office 365 Adoption Activities

Aim to Improve Usage Continually

Companies will never gain all of the advantages of SharePoint and Office 365 through one-time or periodic training sessions. Mastery is a result of continual learning habits. The same applies to SharePoint and Office 365 user adoption.

Automate training content delivery, optimize tutorials for quick consumption, and leverage the power of existing habits to ensure that learning has continuity without much effort. Over time, tiny learning habits can build up to greater problem-solving abilities using SharePoint and Office 365.

It is by continuing to dig into the platforms that employees can not only work faster but also discover and create better business workflows and processes. This way of approaching technology also helps companies easily deploy timely upgrades and stay ahead of the digital transformation curve.