Training: one of the many processes you manage daily as a business executive, and one that may not often fall as the most important task on your agenda. What does your company’s training program look like? Some companies have their training on autopilot, taught through a manual or informational video. Others simply throw their untrained employees in the mix, hoping they will pick things up on the job.
It’s time to rethink the traditional training process. By taking the time to lead employees through the training process, it will result in employees not only understand their tasks and processes better, but it’ll also instill a sense of ownership of the process that encourages the trainee to become a leader in what they do.
If you look at training from strictly a managerial lens, you’ll search for the quickest, easiest standardized way to get someone from point A to point B, ignoring the most important aspect of the equation – the employee’s personal learning style. If you’ve ever been trained in this manner, you know just how long it takes to finally master your tasks efficiently (it could take months).
Instead, look at training through a leadership lens, seeking out a process that will take advantage of your employee’s learning style and explain new tasks in such a way that said employee could in turn teach others the process. When coaching on the topic of training, I refer to John C. Maxwell’s five-step process of training from his book, Developing the Leaders Around You. Through modeling, mentoring, monitoring, motivating, and multiplying, he explains how leadership and guidance is crucial in the process of training:
When you first begin the training process, start by simply doing the tasks while the individual being trained watches. Give the trainee the opportunity to see you go through the whole process. When the individual sees the task performed correctly and to its entirety, it gives them something to work towards duplicating. Modeling also is a great way to help shape perspective by showing the trainee how each small step leads up to the big picture.
Continue to perform the task, but this time ask the trainee to come alongside and assist in the process. Take time to not only explain how the process works but also why each step is important to the process. Be approachable and available, during this step is when your trainee will have a lot of questions while they analytically work through how to complete each step.
Have the trainee perform the task, and be available to assist and correct. During this step, make a point to be positive and encouraging to the trainee. Mistakes will happen, and it is important not to show frustration while your trainee is working to grasp the hang of things. Work with him or her until they develop consistency. Once they seem to have the process down, ask him or her to explain it to you as a true test of understanding.
Take yourself out of the task and let the trainee go! Your role is now to make sure he or she knows what to do without help, and to keep encouraging them to do their best. At this time the trainee may want to make improvements to the process. Encourage them to do it, and at the same time learn from them. You never know what innovation they may have to make the process more efficient.
Once the trainee does the job well, it becomes their turn to teach others. After taking the time to lead one person through the training process, your role stays in “motivator” mode and the cycle of training continues without you! As every teacher knows, the best way to learn something is to teach it.
Implement the five-step process of training in your organization and lead your employees from beginners to experts in their roles. You’ll trade off the time and effort you initially put in with the involvement in one trainee’s learning process for confident, knowledgable leaders that teach each other and innovate the process while doing so.