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Expected knowledge of employees

This article is not directed at any one company or person. It has been observed over many years working across multiple corporate environments, that the expected knowledge of employees who work with computers may not be as up to date as would be expected. As specialists in the learning and training area, we have been involved in the training of computer software from Microsoft to Adobe across many industries.

Technology evolves constantly. The computer hardware that sits on our desk, the software that runs on the hardware, and the connected services that are joining everything together.

From using email, to managing calendar appointments, using Microsoft PowerPoint, to the Cloud; technology surrounds us everywhere as we tackle our day to day work.

Most of us who work in the corporate space have an appreciation for the power of the tools and technology that we use, however the ability to harness that power is left to those who either have a knack for it or are prepared to put in the effort to learn how to use it properly.

The same could be said for any job. If you’re a carpenter, you learn how to use the tools. Chances are you wouldn’t be on a job-site if you weren’t proficient in the tools. Think of any job that uses tools, and a certain degree of proficiency is required. Sure it’s a health and safety requirement, some tools can cause harm and even death, we get it. However when we look at it from an efficiency and productivity perspective, how much knowledge should we have to enable us to do our job as efficiently as expected (and for which we get paid for)? If we use Excel a few times a week for example, should we do some formal training in Excel?

Most of the day-to-day software tools we use have been around for over 20 years. Software like Microsoft Office, email programs, the ability to schedule meetings and invite attendees and even search the internet have been an automatic part of our work lives since most of us have been working (cue the dinosaurs who reminisce about the dial-up modem, the Rolodex and fax machines, yes we know you are out there).

There should be some expected level of knowledge when it comes to working in the digital space, especially working part of a team, where the use of certain tools is paramount to the success of the team collaborating efficiently.

So what is this knowledge? Good question and we’re glad you asked! There isn’t really a standard answer when it comes to this. When we scan job ads, there is usually a list of expected knowledge when applying for these jobs. Proficiency in Microsoft Office seems to be the minimum standard when applying for most corporate based jobs these days. Even this is open to interpretation. Someone who has been working with Microsoft Office for over ten years without any formal training may not have the same level of knowledge as someone with less experience although they have undertaken some formal training in the software.

With the evolution of online collaboration tools like Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Dropbox and Google Drive where document creation, editing and collaborating all take place in the cloud, with automatic version control, why then are we seeing individual document versions being created next to each other, when the technology takes care of this for us. Is this impacting the quality of product or service we provide our customers? Is this impacting our efficiency as a species?

Ok we’ll stop there as this isn’t a philosophy blog. Put simply we just don’t know how to use our software properly.

The bottom line is if we need to ask someone else to do something for us, that is an expected part of our job, should we not take it on to learn how to do it ourselves?

If we can’t learn how to do it or we just don’t want to, then where does that leave us? Maybe it’s not our job. What is our job? This is another great question! This comes back to detailed Job Descriptions and expectations. And this opens up a can of worms for another article, another time.

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