How could your blog know everything about your business? You could tell it, as part of capturing and sharing the valuable knowledge in your small business.
Whenever your small business brings on a new person, there is a period of adjustment and training. You have to teach them what to do, how it’s done here, tricks that make things easier, traps to avoid, and all the basics. Then there are stories from the company, founding stories, people stories, and customer stories.
Your current method of capturing and sharing all this info probably works like most small businesses. You bring in a new person, show them only the bare minimum to get them started, and then work in other things as you can. None of it is formal or scheduled, so the training is hit or miss.
But what if you blogged that knowledge? You could use any blogging system (Blogger, TypePad, WordPress, Posterous) to capture and save all the training materials and stories. It’s as easy as sending an email. As for security, Blogger allows you to limit a blog to certain viewers, and I’m sure the other systems do, too.
Start on it the next time you bring in a new person. As you teach them something, also add it to your blog. Maybe even have the new person add it as a draft for you to edit and approve. It would give you an instant check on their understanding.
Use the multiple media available to you. Record stories in audio or video. Use video for how-to demonstrations. Use text for complex or lengthy information. Include lots of photos. Involve everyone on your team. Celebrate successes. Profile important customers.
Rick Mahn and I came up with this idea. What do you think? Could you make it work in your small business?
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I think this is a smashingly good idea!
Especially the part to “have the new person add it as a draft for you to edit and approve. It would give you an instant check on their understanding.” Getting a “check on their understanding” is invariably the most difficult part with new hires.
In my past lives I have written several employee handbooks for various industries. “Do they get it?” was always the question that came close to being unanswerable. At last, an answer!
Additionally, using a blog would make policy and methodology changes very easy: pluck out the old, insert the new.
I agree with maesz, Becky — great idea. I especially like it for very small businesses. As you know we do people practice research among small firms, typically with 750 or fewer employees, and our largest demographic by far for company size is 50 or fewer. With the low or free cost of entry for a blog, combined with the fact that most intranet platforms are designed with features to be best used by companies a good deal larger, this could indeed be a great repository of ideas and solutions.
One caution would be to use a platform outside of Blogger, since it’s owned by Google and therefore is subject to outages, changes and limitations. It’s the same reason some people I know have refrained from setting up an online community in Ning in favor of their own, sometimes more expensive but more controllable and customizable platforms.
Becky McCray says
Maesz, when you call an idea smashingly good, we’re on to something!
Mark, all the platforms have their own limitations. You’re dependent on someone, whether that is your hosting company, the WordPress community, Six Apart (TypePad), Posterous, or any other service. My best advice is to be sure you can export your information before you begin. Then you have the ability to make choices down the line.
Which of your businesses will you be using this great idea?
I could NOT get this idea out of my mind!
All day yesterday, it kept popping back up. Each and every time it did, the hair on the back of my neck prickled.
I can see so many ways this could be so good for a small business: continuity (what did we do last time?), non-intimidating to new hires (most of whom are probably “blog” savvy already), even “Hey, I know where that is!” (it will never get lost in the filing cabinet–yes, I have a filing cabinet, don’t you?), easy to share (copy, paste, send), . . .
Can you tell I am excited by this idea?
Becky McCray says
Miss Dazey, I can think of a couple of my businesses where it would be great. I’m considering launching it soon for one of them.
Maesz, I think it’s the best version on an employee handbook that I’ve heard. :)
Mick Galuski says
Becky, great post. I’m gonna try and use this (probably internally on google wave and then sieve that for blog entries).
I’d love to stop doing the same work over and over again!
Becky McCray says
Thanks, Mick. I’d love to hear how it works for you.
Mark Ijlal says
In my business:
1. We created a blog for our clients, running on WordPress, self-hosted, behind a password protected wall. They absolutely love it, the cost was nothing since we already had the domain. Anybody in my company can manage the blog – upload audios, videos, and content without any HTML knowledge required. The clients like the easy-to-search functionality. Before that we had a HTML site that always took longer to update and tweaks. Now it takes minutes to post updates and be done with it.
2. I always thought that the easiest way to internalize anything is to teach to another person. We are a very very very small company (and intend to keep it that way, we like small size / agility / profitability triangle) but we do hire temp help on a regular basis. Instead of training four people on how to use our internal blog – we train the first one and ask them to train the rest. They always come back with good suggestions on how to make the blog more useful.
I really like the idea of using the blog as a training tool as you suggested and I am going to start building another WordPress blog for that.
Becky McCray says
Mark, thank you so much for sharing your experience with a similar project. I also appreciate your approach to training.