Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teach, Don't Just Do | Tech Support & Boiled Eggs

I'm going to just ignore the fact that I haven't posted anything in four months. (Four months, really!?) I'm going to pretend that my website wasn't down for a few weeks because I totally forgot to renew my domain while I was planning my wedding. Just smile and nod and proceed to the next paragraph. Please. For me. 

Earlier this month, a coworker emailed me with some questions about basic Salesforce functionality. I didn't have time to do a GoToMeeting to train him (I always get sidetracked with demonstrating functionality that they don't need to know but is just so stinkin' cool... and I didn't want that to happen).

It would have been easy to just do the tasks for him and reply 'done.' 

But, I recalled a conversation with my boss, likely during my employee evaluation. While it might not be the easiest or quickest route, we discussed the benefits of training people rather than just doing something for them.  In addition to benefiting them, it helps you (or me) because the next time they need assistance with something similar, they'll be better equipped to handle it themselves.

When I was growing up, my mom never taught me to cook (or do laundry or start a lawnmower). She would say "Oh, just let me do it!" when I didn't catch on quickly. She didn't have the patience to let me fumble a bit and learn. (This is why I had to call her when I moved out in my early 20's to find out how to boil an egg. No joke.)

So, with a little life experience and encouragement from that conversation with my boss, I wrote out a tutorial with screencaptures (uh, got Clarify? It's awesome.) and sent it to him. I told him that if he needed further help, I was available.

I expected a response something like this: "I'm-too-busy-to-following-your-numbered-directions! I-have-so-many-things-to-do-because-I'm-an-important-sales-guy!! My deals-are-worth-more-than-you-make-in-a-year!"

But this is what I received instead. 

Good technique on your part - provide instructions and let me do it - that's the best way to learn.

That totally made my day.

I know that not everyone is going to respond this way. And that's okay. This experience reminded me that the effort I put forth to help other people become geekier is worth it. I'm going to do my best to provide support that will help my coworkers get something done and build their skill set. 

The moral is this: go forth and do. But also take the time to teach.

Jenna Baze is a rather geeky girl with average social skills and an affinity for: Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Pinterest, natural light photography and finding creative ways to avoid doing dishes (which includes updating a handful of blogs).
Email: rathergeeky@gmail.com | Twitter: @RatherGeeky  | Facebook: Rather Geeky Tips


  1. first of all, congratulations! second, I've been called an "enabler" because I will "do" rather than "teach". I have been teaching a lot more often lately because my user list is rapidly growing and I don't have the time to create those reports or merge records... I tell them to not be afraid to make a mistake and to call me if they need help. So far it's been going well.

    1. @KimberlyJ: Good for you for letting go! That's the hardest thing for me - giving a user some freedom when I'm afraid they'll make a mistake. But, fortunately, most things can be 'undone' in Salesforce (uh, except for merging - eek!).

  2. First of all, I COMPLETELY agree with your decision not to mention how long it'd been since your last post. In fact, I appreciate it (since my last post was freshly posted even before that)! At any rate, you've managed to both surprise and delight your constituent. This is the goal of any organization - even if the organization is YOU! Congrats to you and thanks for the reminder - great post!