I’m not a good trainer. I need to be mindful of that while ramping up a business development person — our next important hire. And I need to use this opportunity to get better at training because it’s a critical skill to have.
Thoughts of the day: Be a role model. Have patience. Let your trainee make mistakes and learn from them. Let your passion show through. Don’t try to teach everything at once. Learn about the person you’re training. Back up your training with reference materials.
Think about how you come across. How skilled and determined are you at what you’re teaching? Could someone else do the training and demonstrate more passion or expertise? Show your trainees the right way to do it and don’t talk about shortcuts.
Avoid the temptation to rush. Explain what you’re going to do and what to expect. Then ask trainees to watch how you do it. Tell them to do it the same way. Give trainees time to absorb and build muscle memory.
Next, let students test how things work. Once they can repeat accurately what you’ve shown them, let them try to do it on their own. Stick around to observe and discuss how things are going.
Avoid overload by working in small increments. Schedule multiple practice sessions. Resist the temptation to move on to something new until your pupils show some degree of competence at the last task.
Resist the temptation to rescue students from problems. Let them work it out. Be there to answer questions or offer suggestions — but only if the students are open to advice. As long as they aren’t going to do permanent damage, let them make mistakes, discover what doesn’t work and figure out how to do things right on their own.
Be enthusiastic. Talk about what the company stands for and how that helps customers to succeed. Encourage best practices. Set the standards bar high.
Learning can be stressful, and people don’t do well in a 24/7, high-intensity environment. Break big projects or tasks into sections. Work on one section at a time. Take breaks and let students build confidence by having them work on something they already know how to do.
Figure out how each student learns best. Some people absorb information by being told how to do things. Others need to read up on a subject. Still others like to practice with their hands to get the feel of how things should work. Some people are good at conceptualizing, others need to see an example. Adapt your teaching style to fit each student’s needs.
If people make mistakes or take longer than expected, show respect. Encourage them to try. Take them aside to discuss problems one on one.
If trainees get stuck, ask if this task is a good fit for what is needed in order to succeed overall. If the answer is “yes,” keep on practicing. If the answer is “no,” consider assigning someone else.
Put together training manuals, checklists, pictograms and other tools to help. If you don’t already have training materials, ask trainees to keep notes and type them up. Then give the notes to the next people who need to be trained and ask them to make notes on where they get stuck. Repeat the cycle three or four times and you should have a good training manual in hand.
Try “Training Ain’t Performance” by Harold D. Stolovitch.