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TL;DR - A colleague decided a training they were put in charge of was required to be done handwritten as some studies have shown that it helps with information retention.

Is it appropriate for a team-member to require something, out of the ordinary professional practices, of their peers because they feel it will bring better results?


Our team supports a number of software applications.

Each one of us is more trained/knowledgeable in one of the products. We've just expanded the team and our manager has decided that it's a good time for cross training.

The manager told each of the product "leads" (no seniority, just more experienced with that product) to determine a training course in their products.

One fellow decided that all the training for their product was to be done handwritten. They wrote up a number of questions to answer as well as points of information to search for and make note of. This will amount to a fairly large document.

Points to consider:

  1. They are not the manager, nor do they have any seniority on our team yet they affirm that we all MUST do the training handwritten.
  2. We are still supporting the other products and training is a secondary initiative - i.e. there is limited time for it and handwriting will exponentially slow down the process (and be immensely frustrating to boot)
  3. It's a document that will be very useful as a resource (it is a good training exercise), and will therefore need to be typed.
  4. While some studies show that in a classroom setting writing notes by hand could have an advantage over typing, others prove it to be inconclusive. Nor is this an academic setting.
  5. When I mentioned that I was moving forward through their training but typing it out - I explained the points above (didn't get into the first as it is self evident), they replied that it was non-negotiable. Truth is I wasn't negotiating with them. They also said further that I would not be approved to support their product - not their call (though they have some say in the matter ).
  6. Plus, we are a fully remote company, so it's even more silly: we'd have to take a picture of the paper.

I will not be following their requirements, the team leader easily agreed with me.

Further I feel the idea was inappropriate from the start.

Which leads me to the main question:

Is it appropriate for a team-member to require something, out of the ordinary professional practices, of their peers because they feel it will bring better results?

  • 1
    Why do you consider writing to be outside of normal practice? A method of communication going back hundreds of years... – Solar Mike May 4 at 15:12
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    Also this a few page report. When was the last time you wrote a few pages by hand in a professional setting...? (In a job that did not require handwritten documents) – C_Norris May 4 at 15:18
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    @SolarMike When metal nibs were invented, quill pens had been in use for hundreds of years. Do you expect everyone to be able to correctly trim a quill pen? Being old does not prevent a skill from becoming obsolete. – Patricia Shanahan May 4 at 15:39
  • @PatriciaShanahan scratching on a stone slate, carving on wood, stone, bone even... you don’t have to be capable of producing the tool, but using it... So many use computers, can they all re-install the system? I think not... but they can use it. – Solar Mike May 4 at 15:47
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    This is training... why do you care? Is there an exam or certification at the end? – Kilisi May 4 at 16:12
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Is it appropriate for a team-member to require something

If they were put in charge then yes, they can require any ridiculous rubbish they want. But since they're in charge of the training, not you, you can ignore it and your colleague can explain his crackpot teaching methods to the manager if he wants to complain.

No complaining, rationalising, reasoning, dialogue etc,. just ignore it. Particularly if it is inconveniencing and hasn't any positive gain such as a recognised certification or something that the guy is actually empowered to give.

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    you hit it right on. I agree. Thought I could discuss it with them, guess not. There's another part of the training that I was planning on discussing with them but I will just follow this advise. – C_Norris May 4 at 16:51
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It's a document that will be very useful as a resource (it is a good training exercise), and will therefore need to be typed.

This is the angle you should use when arguing this. A handwritten reference is not searchable. A handwritten reference is not reusable. You can't copy/paste it to a client or easily pass it to a colleague. I suppose you could scan it and put it on your internal wiki tool, but that is absurd.

This guy is destroying future learning (yes, it could theoretically be typed after, but it never is) for the sake of boosting memory with his demand.

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  • I made this point. Their answer was "so type it up after"... – C_Norris May 4 at 15:58
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    @C_Norris ...which will not happen. Well, here is your answer. Go with the flow and let him drown in hand-written manuscripts afterwards. He should justify your duplicate use of time for writing up to whoever handles your time resources. – Captain Emacs May 4 at 16:02
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"One fellow decided that all the training for their product was to be done handwritten."

And if they had a disabled member of staff who couldn't handwrite?

They should concern themselves with retention of the information - so each person should make notes in whatever way is appropriate for their learning style. For example, I use handdrawn mindmaps a lot; it works for me, but I would never ask someone else to do that if I was training them.

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