7 design intranet training tips

Do you want the payoff for 9 months of back-breaking work designing your new intranet? Then spend equal time, care, and imagination on the adoption of that intranet.

A new intranet means more than a new software tool for employees—intranets let your organization change the way its employees work together. While you should design a user-friendly, intuitive intranet (using card sorting and task testing), employees still need training on new processes and best practices. Training also gives less tech-savvy employees confidence to get started with the intranet.

Here are seven tips to help you design your intranet training:

1. Offer one-on-one training for executives

Executive adoption is important. Execs hold the keys to budgets, strategic direction, and governance. Plus, they are ambassadors who other employees follow. Give them one-on-one training when and how they want it. Set up reverse mentoring, in which young, tech-savvy employees help executives get comfortable with the new intranet.

2. Plan different training for each user group

Design training sessions for different user types, so you can emphasize the most important intranet features for them. We often base training on the user’s special job needs, but you may also divide it by business unit or department. Common user groups include:

  • End users
  • Content owners
  • Community and group page managers
  • Intranet administrators

This structure gives you the flexibility to do both technical training and best practices (e.g. a “writing for the Web or intranets” portion of your “news publishers” training).


3. Train power users for each office location

Many intranets are plagued by disconnection from offices outside HQ. Break this pattern by training power users in each office and maintaining strong relationships with them. Here’s how:

  • Train power users in each office
  • Work with those power users and their managers to make their trainer role official
  • Provide direct, high quality support to them
  • Offer training scripts and tips to them
  • Go out of your way to keep up your relationship with power users (e.g., call each one just to catch up)
  • Schedule a monthly conference call for power users

4. Create a welcoming training environment

To make users comfortable, you must make them feel welcome.

Frame their training as “I’m here to help you get the most out of this cool new tool” rather than as “You must use this now!” Use tactful language to reinforce this message. You’ll see a cooperative, cheerful attitude.

5. Create an intranet help forum

Create a forum where users post questions anyone can answer. Encourage super users to post answers through enticements—recognition, chocolate, beer.

6. Hold weekly drop-in sessions

Now that you’ve trained everyone, reinforce what they’ve learned. Help them apply it to real life. You can provide this training in-person, online or both. Pro-tip: Snacks at the weekly intranet drop-in are a good incentive to get people interested in attending and learning more.

7. Design refresher courses

There can be a big gap between “training” and “learning.” The former happens at a specific time. The latter is ongoing. Provide short, pithy and flexible refresher courses. Adapt them to attendees’ needs. Consider video refresher courses.

Ephraim Freed is the communications manager for the Digital Workplace Group, and contributing writer and professional services consultant for ThoughtFarmer, the social intranet software company. This article is from ThoughtFarmer’s forthcoming eBook: “Intranets 101: The Practical and Hands-on Guide to Launching an Intranet Project,” and has been republished with permission.

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