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Training—With Peers

If you want to be prosperous for a year, grow grain;
If you want to be prosperous for ten years, grow trees;
If you want to be prosperous for a lifetime, grow people.

PROVERB

The best interests of an organization are served by people who are multi-skilled. These people fill in for people who are away temporarily or overloaded. So while it enhances your power to be a specialist, the sole provider of a niche skill or technology, it's in your organization's interest to have others who are able to do your job, to at least an 80 percent competency level. If you're asked to train someone to do your job, here's how you should go about doing so:

  1. Before the training, meet with your fellow employee to establish:

    • Her level of enthusiasm for the task at hand.

    • How much she knows about the task. Ask:

      • Has she ever done this before?

      • Has she done something similar?

    • What similar knowledge and skills she possess.

    • Any barriers that will inhibit her learning, such as language or dexterity.

  2. Ask if he has any concerns about doing the task. Try to alleviate his concerns by describing how you will help overcome them.

  3. Try to establish how she likes to learn. Is she:

    • Auditory? These people learn best by listening.

    • Visual? These people learn best by seeing a demonstration.

    • Kinesthetic? These people like to learn something by doing it.

      While a person may have a favourite style of learning — one you should focus on — it is best to cover all three for maximum impact.

  4. Document the process as you know it. If it is complex, break it down into "bite-sized" pieces. Whenever possible, provide diagrams and drawings; after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

  5. Document the standards of performance so that the trainee will know what constitutes an acceptable performance.

  6. Set a date, place, and time for the training. Plan to do it near the time when he will need to use his new skills.

  7. Meet with the trainee for the transfer of information. Make her feel comfortable by

    • assuring her that you will work at her pace;

    • letting her know that you are confident of her ability;

    • encouraging her to ask as many questions as she needs to.

  8. Confirm the purpose of the training. Let the trainee know how many sessions you will have and what help he can expect from you.

  9. Explain how the task fits into the overall process of the particular product or service being provided.

  10. Explain the goals to your training and your expectations in terms of the standards that should be achieved.

  11. Demonstrate the task. If it is large and complex, break the task down and demonstrate one part at a time.

  12. Monitor the reaction of the trainee. What is her body language telling you? Is she smiling, acknowledging understanding, and showing interest? Respond to any negativity by identifying and dealing with the issue.

  13. Let the trainee try the task. Stand back and observe. Be careful not to intervene too quickly if he makes a mistake; wait a little while to see if he will correct himself.

  14. Observe her body language. Saying that she understands may be true or it may be a polite way of not wanting to admit a lack of understanding. You will generally know that she understands if

    • her eyes are focused;

    • she is nodding;

    • she shows some impatience to try it herself;

    • she is paraphrasing your explanation.

  15. Ask him if he can do it. If so, let him try. If not, show him again.

  16. Give praise at any sign of progress. The greater the progress, the bigger your praise should be.

  17. With each step mastered, go on to the next step until the process is complete.

  18. Have her document your instructions in her own words. This "template" will enable her to do the job without having to check with you when she runs into difficulties.

  19. Finish the training with a symbolic celebration. Congratulate the learner. Assure him of your support. Invite him to call on you if he encounters any difficulties in the future.


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