YouTube is a poor substitute for a customized software training course

Too many managers have decided that they don’t need to train their staff on any common office software like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Teams because their staff can find the answer to any question on YouTube. They figure it saves the cost of a training course from an expert. I think they are wrong and this approach is costing them way more in productivity.

YouTube is great, don’t get me wrong. But finding the answer you need isn’t all that easy.

Let me give you a non-work example that just happened to me. Last week a relative stayed with us for a couple of nights. She used the guest bathroom, which doesn’t get much use now that our kids have moved out. The first night she came to say that the toilet would not stop running. I checked the flapper because that is the #1 cause of issues. It was working fine. The valve that stops the refill mechanism wasn’t closing so the water kept running.

I wasn’t totally surprised as this can happen if some dirt or debris gets into the water line. I have done work on the lines close to this bathroom recently so I figured that was likely the issue. I had to figure out how to open the top of the fill valve assembly to check the rubber valve. Off to YouTube.

My first search used the term “fill valve” and that returned videos that were about replacing the whole assembly. That’s not what I needed. I tried another term, tried watching a couple of videos but still no luck. I had replaced the fill valve assembly in another toilet a few years ago and still had the packaging. I tried a search with that manufacturer name in it. Those didn’t look like the one I had a problem with. Up to the toilet to discover it was a different manufacturer. Searched with that name. Those thumbnails at least looked like what I was seeing. But most were about replacing the whole assembly. Oh, here’s one that shows removing the top. Watched it and found the info I needed.

My experience is the same that staff have when searching for the solution to a problem in office software. You try one search term, it doesn’t return any relevant results because the term isn’t what the software calls it. Try more search terms. Watch some videos just to find out they aren’t solving the problem you have. Try some more searches and videos before hopefully landing on one that provides the solution. This is time consuming and frustrating. I see it in comments I get on my YouTube videos when it solves an issue someone has been struggling with for a while. Here’s one recent example: “Thank you so much for this video – answers what I’ve been looking for since the last one year.”

Because the manager never sees the time spent searching for the answer, they think YouTube is a great substitute for customized training. If they invested in a customized course for their staff that covered the key skills and techniques needed for that role, the staff would save a huge amount of time and be so much more productive. Job satisfaction would increase and people would be happier coming to work each day.

I see this in the customized training courses I deliver. I always include makeovers of their current work so I know the skills they need to learn and the participants see the ideas applied to their own work. They are much more likely to apply what they learn when it is clearly relevant to their job.

If you are a manager who thinks YouTube is an adequate substitute for properly training your staff on the tools they use every day, please reconsider that perspective. Your staff can be happier and more productive with training that is customized to the job they perform.

By Dave Paradi

Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don't overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 4.8 million times and liked over 17,000 times on YouTube.