CAD Manager's Q&A: Self-Studying

22 Aug, 2007 By: Robert Green

I'd like to motivate my CAD users to brush up on their skills by self-studying. What can I do to help the process along?

Robert Green replies: Ah, the age old question of how do you get people to WANT to learn and do so of their own volition! Great question for which there is no one answer. I do have a few ideas though.

Route interesting articles around. See something you think your users can benefit from reading? Send it around the office the old-fashioned way and let everybody look at it. Just stick a Post-it note with the list of people you’re routing to and ask each person to read and forward it to the next name on the list. This trick gets cool information around and sets up a little competitive peer pressure to learn among your users, which is motivational.

Create challenge exercises. Follow up your reading assignments with challenge exercises that users can try to see how well they mastered the material. Those who want to learn will relish the chance to put new skills to use instead of just reading about it.

Delegate. Why not take your best deputy CAD manager and let them cook up some interesting reading or challenge exercises? This will take the burden from you, develop additional CAD management talent, and let other users learn from a different person with a different teaching style. Sometimes simple changes, like a different instructor, will create a small surge of learning.

Give rewards. If somebody goes out of their way to learn new skills, reward them with a gift card, a nice lunch, or a snazzy new mouse of their choosing. When others see the rewards for learning, they’ll be more likely to learn too.

Along the way, make sure that users understand that the more they know, the more likely they are to get work done with less stress and better results. The message should be “knowledge is good” combined with “and you can push yourself to learn with just a little effort.”

Getting people to learn on their own and change old work practices is never easy, but it can be fun if you approach it from a positive angle and provide some small rewards to motivate your staff. Try it.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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