So. Today I got mad. I've had it with some of these secretaries who claim to not need training because they "know Word." Let me just point out the blue whale in the room (it ate the elephant) - most Word users have little idea how to TRULY use the awesome functions and features that make Word a time-saving-work of document-creation art. As a matter of fact, most of them use it more like a typewriter than a modern-day automated, efficiency creating, document development tool. Can I say this with authority? Yes. Why? Because I have spent the last 12 years of my life talking, helping, fixing, wiping the tears of and training your legal staff and your attorneys on Microsoft Word. Is it their fault that they are so often under-trained? ...ehhhh, sometimes and no.
Here's what I think happened....there was WordPerfect and it was simple (and good) so everyone became proficient with it. Then Word started to sidle its way in. Law firms did one of three things: ignored Word (and many still do), allowed a bi-product existence or totally migrated to Word. Those who stuck with WP, haven't had to or wanted to learn a whole new product so they stayed and are the WordPerfect Die-hards. No problem with them, they have a tool and they know how to use it. Good.
Then we have the Middlers, those who stayed on the fence and allowed both products to stay in use. The users from these firms know WordPerfect VERY well and just enough Word to get by. They may have been offered training at some point but either didn't go or it didn't stick because they didn't use it.These users will often claim they "know word" just from having had it installed on their computers over the past years. Yeah, because you learn application skills by keyboard osmosis. Many of these folks move on to other law firms and when asked if they know Word will answer, "Of course, my old firm has been using it for 5 years." No training needed there. (pahahaha!)
Then we have the poor poor Word Warriors who got handed Word during a "conversion/migration project." Here's what happened to them... back when all the first (and often major) conversions were starting in 2003, 2004, 2005 - we all thought it would be a GREAT idea to make support staff take 8 hours of Word training (straight!) and mandate attorneys to sit through 2 tortuous hours of training WHILE we yanked their old PC's out AND ran their life's works through a "conversions" that was sure to perfectly re-produce their documents as well-behaved Word 2003 docs. We all had visions of secretaries sitting back down at their desks, kissing their new computers and making sweet digital-love to Microsoft Word.
That's not quite how it went. The conversions were stressful, documents were lost, training was forgotten, tears were shed...it was pure survival mode. The documents needed to get done, get out and get replicated to keep the machine moving. So over time the thought of actually learning how to use Word as it should be used got buried in the day to day survival of the firm. The need for training has also gotten lost in the assumptions of administrators and attorneys because staff aren't asking for it and work is being produced. Everyone MUST be a Word expert. Hate to tell you, but many of you couldn't be more wrong.
I applaud (and thank) the many, many firms who do recognize the need for and offer training; heros are the secretaries who have the courage to admit they need training; champions are those that take pride in their work and want to create beautiful documents. THANK YOU! And of course, believe me, there are many users who are REALLY GOOD, but they are so far and few between that I can nearly remember them all (Hi Jill, Evalina, Marcus, Hello Maggie, Michelle G. (not S., she was such a faker), Hi Victoria! I often tell stories about you!).
Holy cow, did I get side-tracked. I'm almost not mad anymore, I'm sad. I feel sorry for all these people who have to sit in front of Word all day long and suffer. I feel sorry for those who want it but can't get. I do not, however, feel sorry for those of you whose firms pay REALLY good money for people like me to come in and HELP and you are so delusional that you don't get it.. or maybe you're so vain that you don't want to admit it.But whatever, back to where I started.... Here are the first two signs of a badly created document because SOMEONE doesn't know what they are doing.
Here is how a typical AWFUL signature block will look when SOMEONE doesn't know or worse, just doesn't CARE...
This is how it SHOULD (or could look, there are a couple of options but here's one)...
What Pretty looks like...
Today, your documents are a sign of your commitment to technology in the business of your practice. Anyone can open up the hood and see how your Word documents are being nurtured, when they look like the bad examples above it reflects poorly on the Firm.
But alas, there is hope. With the release of Word 2007 and 2010, it's a clean slate! It's a second chance! So be sure to include training in your budgets and be sure to make training an embedded part of your firms culture and bottom line.
Here are a few training resources for Word 2007 and 2010:
Get this book!
or this one