Training and Developing Employees

     The specific method or process for developing or training varies with what is to be taught, the learning abilities of the people involved, and their prior experience. This basic approach can be followed as a general outline for instruction on any type of training or development:

     1. Explain what is to be done and why. Tell team members what the task involves and why it is important. Answer any questions in a friendly, positive manner. Point out how the individuals will benefit. If they can expect to receive higher pay, increased job status, or become more valuable to the organization in some other tangible way, tell them so. Describe to them how their efforts help reach the organization’s goals. Remind them that by receiving further training and development, they can better meet their personal goals for increased responsibility and greater compensation.

      2. Explain the major steps. Break down the task into steps that are easy to understand. Provide a written description and guidelines in addition to your verbal explanations. Providing a written procedure saves you and the team member time later in answering questions. Written procedures also demonstrate your confidence in the abilities of your team members to follow written instructions, to answer their own questions, and to learn independently

     3. Have the trainee explain to you the procedure. Encourage the trainee to “talk through” the procedure. This helps you and the trainee to identify any misunderstanding about the procedure. When all the trouble spots are eliminated and trainees can accurately and confidently describe the procedure, they are ready for the next step.

     4. Demonstrate the procedure. Teach one step at a time. Demonstrate what to do by performing the activity, explaining as you work, while they watch and listen. Remember that people learn differently. Nearly all learn best by watching the successful performance of the skills you are teaching and then by actually performing the skills themselves.

     5. Help trainees to perform the procedure. When you first allow the trainee to perform the procedure independently, remain available as a resource. Avoid assuming too much responsibility. Remember, you are there to help the trainee succeed.

     6. Evaluate progress. Praise satisfactory performance and point out ways to improve still more. Always emphasize what a person does right. Show what could be done better, and ask questions that lead the trainees to expand their understanding of the process and to develop the knowledge to perform correctly. Give major attention to the aspects of the performance you want to be repeated. Wrong behavior will then be eliminated, and good performance will take its place.

     7. Provide a tracking system. Set up a method of tracking performance. Always inspect what you expect. This approach encourages people to become accountable for their own success and adds to the respect they feel toward you as a good coach and mentor. As soon as possible, put learners on their own to perform with only routine checkpoints. Let them know you have confidence in their ability. The efficiency and effectiveness of nearly every task in any organization can be enhanced by providing a written procedure for it. Written guidelines require careful analysis of a task, a description of the best way to do it, and a tracking system for determining how well the task is being done. Use a tracking system to enable people to measure their success so they can assume responsibility for their own continuous improvement.

     Because you have greater experience and expertise than your trainees and possibly also possess more ability, becoming impatient or even irritable is easy when instructing them because they do not learn as quickly as you expect. Remember that you can never transfer years of knowledge and skill directly to another person. If you assume a condescending, impatient attitude, people quickly detect it and cannot do their best. Use the advantage of your own level of expertise to facilitate the learning experience of the other person.

     You are constantly teaching, training, and developing other people. Every time you give someone an assignment, or tell a person what to do, how to do it, and when it must be completed, you use some technique of instruction. By becoming more aware of these everyday opportunities for training and development, you can turn informal instruction into powerful learning experiences for both yourself and your team members. Because pride of achievement is a powerful motivator, take full advantage of it as an effective coach, mentor, and leader.

Leadership Management Institute
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management International.

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