Why Your Friendly, Open-Door Policy Might be HURTING Your Salesforce Users

Posted by Jonathan DeVore

iStock_000028636690XSmallIt might seem like a good idea for you to always be available and stand over everybody's shoulder to point them through screens - it's fast, it's friendly, and it gets the job done. But in the long run, it might be doing more harm than good.

Don't do their homework for them

Apparently, it's becoming quite common for some parents to do their child's homework for them. I imagine you're smart enough to agree with me when I say, this is not a good idea.

Why do children have homework?

All you have to do is watch one episode of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader to realize that we can't remember very much of what we memorized in school.

Which is okay, because the point of school is not to come out memorizing a lot of facts - it's to learn how to solve problems and find answers. So when parents do their child's homework, they aren't robbing them of knowing facts that they'll forget in a few weeks - they're robbing them of learning how to find answers on their own and become more independent and self-sufficient.

Why do parents do it for them?

One reason quoted in Today.com was that, "Increasing competitiveness and assignment overload are causing some parents to do their children’s homework for them." This really comes down to - there's not enough time.

Parents are essentially justifying it because there's not enough time for their child to do their own homework - there's so much to do and only a small window to do it in. It's just faster if the parent (the person who already has the knowledge) can do it for them.

Same goes for Salesforce users

When I worked at a large accounting firm, that same reasoning was used - it was just faster if the person with the knowledge did things for me. I became accostomed to pinging my supervisor whenever I had a question so he/she could come over and point me through screens.

I wasn't self-sufficient and I couldn't work independently. Even if I knew what I needed to do, I often didn't know how to do it, and I relied heavily on my supervisor to personally walk me through the steps (and I usually needed him to do it more than once).

When you constantly answer your Salesforce users' questions by standing over their shoulder pointing through screens, you are essentially doing their homework for them. In the short-run, it works. In the long run, it's debilitating (especially if you leave).

What should you do?

When children have homework, unless it's a creative assignment, they aren't left to themselves to conjur up an answer. Usually, the school provides resources that have all of the answers - all the child has to do is find them. Homework is just learning how to read the answers and follow instructions.

You need to provide the same kind of resources so that your users can find the answers on their own without having to have you personally show them. They don't need to memorize everything - they just need to know how and where to find everything. 

Modify your training

Is your training geared toward teaching facts and workflows, hoping that everybody will memorize the 20 steps it takes to send out an email campaign? If it is, I would suggest that you modify your training so that you instead teach concepts and high-level overviews, and then show your organization how to use your available resources to do workflows and complete the steps.

Teaching how to find answers and use your resources to get their job done will be far more valuable to your organization than showing them how to do everything in an 8-hour session. You simply can't expect them to remember everything you shared during your training session. For more ideas on how to do this, check out our eBook on Salesforce onboarding and training.

Create your own resources

For some Salesforce workflows, you can just use the documentation and YouTube videos that are already available because nothing you do is different than what 100,000 other people are doing.

If your instance of Salesforce is unique, create customized documentation and answers. If you use the right tools, it doesn't take that much time and your users will love it. The majority of users don't want to keep asking you to come over and help them out - that's just their only choice. Give them an easier way to find answers and they'll use it.

And for all instances of Salesforce, make sure you use the field-level help to answer basic questions about what type of information should be entered.

Think long-term

Answering questions via "over the shoulder training" works in the short-run, but is terrible in the long-run. You can't create an environment where everybody relies on you, and they can only get their work done when you're available to help them.

Provide resources by either sending out links to available documentation and videos, or create your own that are easily accessible. Then show your organization how to use them to get their jobs done.

What do you think? Has over the shoulder training worked well in your organization?

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Topics: Salesforce adoption