I threw the page into the bin and decided to write my own instructions. What’s the point of reading a page full of text if it doesn’t tell you how to actually use the software?
I hate reading complicated instructions. I learn better if you show me how to set up the DVD player or use a new computer program.
“But what did you do?” I’d often cry in exasperation. “I want to know how to fix it myself if I have the same problem again.”
I like to know how things work, what caused the problem and how to self manage it. It’s part of my stickybeak nature.
Keep it simple, please
There are four key questions I ask whenever I start a new job or project or learn something new:
1. What are you doing?
2. How did you do that?
3. Let me try
4. Why are you doing it that way?
That last question invariably causes defensive reactions. “That’s how we’ve always done it!”
Another thing I hate is a long-winded-complicated-convoluted-double handling-time-wasting process. I mean, how can you have three disparate methods for carrying out one simple task?
“Surely there’s an easier way,” I’d offer.
And yes, there usually is a more streamlined procedure. And I love to write it - in simple, clear, user-friendly steps. That’s how operations manuals are meant to look.
I’m amazed how many organizations don’t have user manuals available for new or temporary staff. I’ve always written my own procedures when using a new database or software system and (because I’m a Capricorn) I’d type them up neatly and keep a printed copy on my desk for easy reference.
It also made my job of training new staff much easier. One operations manual. One process. And, most important, easy to understand.
How to map your job
A few years ago, a HR manager decided to introduce core process mapping into our workplace. Eh? But I’d already updated our customer service user manuals.
That was the HOW. Now we needed to document WHAT we did – our key business functions, tasks and main steps. Yawn. Boring. Right?
However, my interest was piqued – it involved tables and flowcharts, which appealed to my visual learning style. I could see the big picture on paper: squares, diamonds, and arrows.
I was like a kid in a lolly shop; I was the only employee who enthusiastically embraced this project.
“Good,” said my manager, “you can map the customer service processes.”
While other managers cringed and rolled their eyes in lament, I continued drawing flowcharts.
I even drew them for the marketing and finance departments, even though I didn’t know anything about payroll or credit control. I didn’t need to know HOW, only the WHAT. And I asked lots of questions (that’s my stickybeak journalist nature surfacing again).
I’ve always enjoyed working with tables and statistics, and especially love graphs and charts. Perhaps it’s the pretty pictures, but it explains why I’m a visual person, as I often say, I see or show me.
I’m also a hands-on person as I talk with my hands, although I’ve noticed that my auditory abilities have improved since joining a community choir.
The three learning styles
1. Visual learners
• take numerous detailed notes
• tend to sit in the front
• are usually neat and clean
• often close their eyes to visualize or remember something
• like to see what they are learning
• benefit from illustrations and presentations that use colour
• are attracted to written or spoken language rich in imagery
Expressions: This looks good. Do you see what I mean?
2. Auditory learners
• learn by listening
• easily distracted by noise
• acquire knowledge by reading out loud
• interested in what you have to say
Expressions: I hear you. This sounds good.
3. Kinesthetic learners
• need to be active and take frequent breaks
• speak with their hands and with gestures
• remember what was done, but have difficulty recalling what was said or seen
• find reasons to tinker or move when bored
• rely on what they can directly experience or perform
• activities such as cooking, construction, engineering and art help them perceive and learn
Expressions: How do you feel about this? It feels right.
What’s your learning style? Take the test.