Have you ever noticed how beautiful a soft serve ice cream cone looks when created properly? It’s all nice and symmetric…and topped with a little curly swirl, just for panache. Have you also noticed that if you try to do it yourself, the results more closely resemble a gift the neighbor’s dog leaves on your lawn?
Dave Chace (firstname.lastname@example.org) is
president of Training Allies, a CE-focused
training firm in Philadelphia.
As a teenager I worked at a fast food joint that offered soft serve cones, and the manager taught me how to do it the right way. He was a nice guy who spent a good chunk of time explaining the process, then showing me how–and then guiding me as I fumbled through my first few attempts.
Home integration is more complicated than making the perfect ice cream cone and happens to involve a relentlessly changing skill set and substantial employee turnover–a daunting equation. Yet a poorly trained team is a recipe for disaster. So it makes good sense to consider carefully just how good you (or your leaders) are at teaching your people new skills.
Training versus Education
You may think “training” and “education” are the same thing, but they’re not. Education typically refers to the teaching of information; whereas, training refers to imparting specific skills or behaviors, with the goal being for the learner to properly execute those skills on their own later. The difference is important, because each requires a different approach in order to be effective. Taking the wrong approach–despite the best of intentions and investing considerable time–can lead to unsatisfactory results.
Teaching a new skill is relatively easy, and involves four simple steps:
1. Tell them what they’re going to learn
2. Show them how it’s done
3. Let them do it
4. Review how they did
Tell, Show, Do, Review. It’s simple, and it’s also critical that you make sure not to miss any of the steps.
Tell Them What They’re Going To Learn
Home integration is more complicated making the perfect ice cream cone and happens to involve a relentlessly changing skill set and substantial employee turnover–a daunting equation. Yet a poorly trained team is a recipe for disaster. Begin by giving them the goal of the training (or “learning objective” as trainers like to say). For example, “You’re going to learn to properly terminate fiber optic cable.” As human beings, we like to know where we’re headed. Having that goal in mind puts the interim steps in context, which helps us absorb them.
Show Them How It’s Done
Next, clearly demonstrate step-by-step how it’s done. Demonstration provides a visual model people can refer to in their mind’s eye as they try the skill for themselves. It’s approximately 1,000 times more effective than simply explaining how it’s done.
Make sure you provide a successful model when demonstrating a skill. If you make mistakes, the trainee will think, “He’s a pro, and even he can’t do it. I’ll never get it.”
It also helps to explain why you’re doing something. For instance, “Notice that I keep the drywall saw at an angle to the wall as I cut. This prevents the piece from falling into the hole.” People tend to get stuck when they���re left wondering “why,” as anyone with small kids will readily understand.
Let Them Do It
When the trainee tries a skill for the first time, he/she might be apprehensive. It helps to have them recite the steps, in order as they go, because retention increases when we think and talk our way through a subject. You shouldn’t recite the steps to them–that helps only you. Also, offer encouragement as they try the skill, but don’t give advice unless they’re totally lost. Jumping in says to them, “You can’t do this without me,” which is discouraging.
Review how they did
Everybody blows this step. Typically the first impulse is to dive in and say, “Here’s what you did wrong…” which makes the trainee think, “I knew I couldn’t do it!” When learning new skills, there’s no such thing as constructive criticism.
Instead, the trainee should review his own performance. Just ask him/ her to answer these two key questions:
1. “Think about the process you learned. Now, what steps did you do well?”
2. “Is there anything you would do differently?”
To answer, they must mentally review the steps and how well they did each, and decide how to improve–a very powerful exercise.
Be sure to congratulate them on what they did well. If they did part of the skill poorly, ask them to redo it, and give them some guidance, for example, “I’d like you to try cutting in another ceiling speaker, only this time hold the saw like this.”
Finally, be sure to end on a positive note by praising even small improvements. Don’t wait until they’re flawless before you offer a compliment. Praise progress, not perfection.