A common teaching philosophy used in medical school is “watch one, do one, teach one.” (Let’s hope, of course, that surgical procedures require a student to watch many before attempting their own.)
It’s pretty easy to understand the aspects of watch and do. The hardest concept and the one most frequently missed in leading a business is the “teach one” part. While perhaps not as much a matter of life and death, training effectiveness is every bit as important in business as it is in medical school.
What Is Effective Employee Training?
When it comes to training employees, I’ll bet that you are a lot like me. We hurry through the teaching process with the belief that everyone learns the same way we do and at the same pace.
As a business coach, I’m always amazed at the unique ways that talented executives process information and learn. There is a huge difference between experienced leaders, and to homogenize everyone into a single expectation is amazingly short-sighted. Effective employee training takes into account the learning processes of each individual.
This is a lesson I learned the hard way. In the early years of my business experience, I had a hard time communicating our yearly objectives to my field managers. The technique I eventually adopted is to ask the Manager to tell me the most important ideas that I just talked about. It always came out differently than I had intended.
It goes back to the saying, “communication is the response you get.” I had to learn how to keep my message understandable, compact, repeatable, and implementable, as all effective employee training should be.
Effective Training Methods for Employees
Effective employee training isn’t a single event—it is an ongoing process that needs to be consistently managed. To begin, managers need to develop an organized list of objectives and goals to be learned. Effectiveness can’t be measured unless you know what the outcome is supposed to be.
Next, look at your methods. Your training should be fun, entertaining, and interactive. No one wants to be lectured at all day. Find a way to communicate the necessary information in a way that engages your audience and encourages active listening.
Part of learning is explaining how to apply the skill. Explaining the “why” and not just the “how” helps your employees connect the dots and better retain information.
As you train, you should be periodically testing for comprehension. This is a good way to gauge the effectiveness of your training methods and make sure progress is being made. In fact, the best time to begin these tests is actually before you even hire a new employee.
Finally, trainers should celebrate achievement. Positive reinforcement goes a long way towards encouraging good behavior. Let your employees know that you see how well they’re learning and reward their efforts.
If you want to ensure that your lesson is communicated, learned, and sustainable: slow down with your explanation, watch for signals that they understand, watch and correct as they do it themselves, and most importantly, have them teach you how to do it. Once they can effectively train someone else, you will know that your training is complete.
Effective employee training is a constant process. If you need a boost, fill out my contact form to discuss how you can design and implement more effective employee training.
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