Making it Simple
July 15, 2018
Make a task simple and everyone will understand.
Do you ever read a complicated explanation of a simple task and want to scream? “Stop already. Please, a quick, easy fix … I don’t need to know how or why it works, just how to make it work!”
Some people want to impress you with their knowledge, this does not solve problems.
If I understand; the explanation is believable.
Tell a story will help someone remember much longer than a detailed rhetoric on how something is supposed to work.
How bad you want something, will determine the effort you put towards getting results. But when someone complicates the lesson learning slows.
Many times I tried to grasp computer skills of formatting, widgets, menus. Back and forth re-reading descriptions of the process. When something worked, I made a note of what I did.
As months passed I acquired more skills and soon everything became second nature. If an action did not produce the results I expected, going back and checking the steps showed why the failure.
Notes to keep track of procedures made the difference in being able to retain. The knowledge of how to add links, media, spacing, formatting, colors, blocks, plugins, all things foreign in the beginning are a breeze to navigate on the website after many hours of teaching myself.
You can’t compute everything in your brain all at one time.
It takes a procession of small snippets of information you can weave together for a better understanding of how and why things work.
Take your first cooking experience. What does TBSP mean? How do you measure an ingredient? What do they mean by whisk, truss, caramelize, flambe, fricassee, clarify, blanch, toast nuts … uh where … in the toaster? You can’t create a perfect detailed recipe without the knowledge of various cooking terms. The more complicated the recipe, the bigger chance of a disaster.
Years ago I told my teenager daughter an easy way to measure shortening. Did not watch as she made the batch of biscuits. In a panic she recounted that after following the recipe the dough was not solid enough to make biscuits.
Puzzled by her comment as I made them numerous times. Went to check out the situation and ask her questions. Soon found out my easy way turned out wrong for her. She ended up pouring the water in the bowl along with the shortening. To fix what looked more like pancake batter was to add additional flour and a few other ingredients. A valuable lesson, what seemed an easy instruction became confusion for her. Not everyone can understand and get the connection you find simple. Remember a time you never knew either.
Patience is a good method to follow when you introduce a new idea or way of doing things to someone, which can help both of you avoid frustration.
I remember filling boxes in a warehouse and the lead person became frustrated by the lack of response from temporary workers. In frustration she instructed me to work with them. Not a problem. Her approach; point straight ahead to a row of boxes 50 feet away and tell them to get those boxes. Where she stood, and they stood did not appear to be the same row.
I walked the workers over to the row, pointed out the part number, returned with them as they brought the pallet of boxes. Showed them a few times where they needed to place the item in the empty box. Watching them as they now reproduced what I showed them. No issues, they got it, no longer frustrated, and now understood where to find the item numbers on the boxes. They could use this knowledge to retrieve other items to fill the boxes being prepared to ship.
Someone may find a new environment problematic even with a familiar industry. Are they familiar with your method of inventory? Where do you have your supplies? Things done in your company may not be standard in other companies.
References can be confusing when not standard.
How items are referred to can be different. One company I worked for identified colors by a standard method of numbers, 000 referred to as clear and 060 was black, all the other colors ranged from light to dark in between for every item they sold. Design team added colors beyond the 0 to 60, this caused them to designate a new number class of 100’s to identify the product colors.
The other company I worked for had letters. Confusing even for someone that could adapt to changes. Their method: to use the first two letters … but not a consistent gauge or easy to understand. BL = Blue or is it black? If I remember correct, BK was black.
Once someone learns the product a company has they become a valuable asset. The learning curve for product references, methods of doing business, terms of the profession, etc. can take time.
When teachers and instructors of new employees take the simple easy way of showing people it makes for a better transition and work environment. The unfortunate part is some don’t remember that what is second nature to them is confusing for someone else and one time in the past it was foreign to them.
One of the ideal methods for learning procedures on the computer is to do a “print screen“. When this is done it becomes simple to add notes and highlight items that need to be looked at for changes or entries.
Many of the processes I had to do when being a shipping coordinator required extensive paperwork. Each company’s requirements to ship the products they ordered had to be followed. Without a huge library of standards for each company could result in enormous charge-backs. A typical procedure for big box stores. One error can cost thousands of dollars and sometimes refusal of shipment. To make the confusing work simple as possible, I kept each company’s info in a separate binder, highlighting everything that was important with print screens and notes, a copy of a bill of lading and flagging the most important parts to never leave off.
Not everything is simple, but it can be broken down into bite size manageable information that can be pieced together. If you have to learn or be the teacher remember to keep it as simple as possible. We can learn almost anything IF we care to do so. To make the process of learning less painful for everyone involved should be of great interest to management.
Recognize your best teachers in your business can save you a lot of grief. The financial cost of someone not understanding can be huge if left unchecked and the new employee may not be the one to blame.
Most people don’t deliberately seek out to make mistakes. If they are not taught the correct way of doing a task and their teacher has not taken the time to make sure they understand, you need to find a better teacher.
I always apologized to someone if what I explained to them I thought was adequate but they didn’t follow the procedure. I would then go back and show them again this time making sure they grasp what had to be done. You cannot assume someone is incapable until you have exhausted various ways to teach what needs to be accomplished.
How do you keep it simple and can you explain so that others understand?
Are manuals confusing and difficult to comprehend? Leave a comment.