Most entrepreneurs grow their business by teaching each new employee how they do things; serve the customer; record transactions; and complete the day.  Of course, this is really the only way to start your growth; when you add the first employee it makes sense. But what happens when you add the second person?  Then a third?  Do you teach them yourselves?  Most people have one of their experienced employees teach the new employee so they can take one major task off their already lengthy to-do list.

While this seems to be a perfectly logical approach; this method of training has serious drawbacks.

You Sacrifice Consistency

You may think your experienced employee will follow steps precisely as you do; and they may the first time. However, the reality is that every person changes things as they go and once an employee becomes comfortable with a task they begin to put their own little spin on it. So, when your sharp-shooter teaches a new person, you have no idea exactly which process is being taught unless you are standing right there and that defeats the purpose of having someone else do the training. The bottom line is; you have no quality control.

Poor Documentation

Clearly documented instructions are important for use later if something should happen to an employee and you need to replace them quickly. It’s also a key resource for training new employees. Check-lists, instructions, and explanations that are written down help a new person remember what they have been told and should be used for reference as they learn. This helps ensure accuracy, consistency and quality control.

The Training May Not Include Effective Practice

Research has proven that spaced repetition and hands-on practice is the most effective way for most people to learn new skills. Tasks should be broken down and training should be designed so that the employee will experience success as they are learning. Having a proper sequence will also allow you to increase difficulty in the skill as rapidly as possible. A professional instructional designer has been trained and educated in the methods that produce the most effective training; training that will produce a specific reliable result.

It Takes Longer

The time to learn a task is always longer when a person is just following along. Few people (unless they are a professional trainer) know how to sequence instructions to produce the result in the least amount of time possible. It seems obvious that you would tell someone how to do something by starting at the beginning and going through the steps. That is true, but then you have to go back and add in something you forgot, which adds confusion to the sequence and typically causes the learner to need more time to understand what to do, why, and when.

The longer your training takes, the less productivity you have with both employees involved. This inhibits growth and results in poorer service to customers.

Benefits of Professionally Designed Training

If your goal is consistent service to customers and you want training that will be done in the least amount of time possible; take the time to have your procedures documented and establish a training process that provides effective practice and feedback. Professionally developed training will mean the task has been analyzed to determine the simplest, most effective way to train it and result in clear expectations that make the job more satisfying for employees.

After you develop a standardized training process you can then delegate the task of delivering the training to your experienced employee. This will help them develop their own skills in communication, delegation, giving instructions, and providing feedback; all skills they will need if they are to become a supervisor or manager one day. Good employees want to grow; and many want to increase responsibility. Having your sharp-shooter deliver your training is an excellent way to begin; just be sure you know what they are training and document both the instruction and results.

The Bottom Line:

Having a professionally developed training program provides a smooth roadway for the rapid growth of your business.  You will see the benefits when your employees serve the customer as well as you did reliably and consistently; and you don’t have to be there to train them. It ultimately provides you with more free time to focus on your business or your personal life.

About Judi Pine-Sellers

Judi Pine-Sellers is a small business consultant specializing in employee productivity. She has designed dozens of management and employee programs used world-wide. Judi is an expert in all phases of managing employee performance; selection; orientation; training; correcting performance problems; career development; and succession planning. She holds a Master’s Degree in Instructional Design as well as advanced certificates from Thunderbird School for International Management and the University of Michigan, Executive Education Business School.

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On-The-Job Training: Beware of these Pitfalls

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