HR Tip: Training

You may not know this about me yet, but I started my adult life as a teacher. I taught English as a Second Language at two schools in the US - St. Giles College and Eckerd College. At first I was sooooo nervous to teach, but as I got more confident I loved it. When I was deciding on the focus for my master's degree at Penn State, it was this love of teaching that lead me to choose the emphasis in training and development.

The thing that has always amazed me about training is it's ability to keep great people around. A well defined and executed training system can do so much to augment all the other things that keep people around: the work environment, connecting their work to a greater purpose, a strong relationship with their manager.


So, where's the tip? When you're thinking about training here are some things to think about:

  • What is the most important thing that they need to know before they learn anything else?

  • How can I break up what I am teaching to give them time to learn, time to get feedback, and time to practice?

  • How am I going to measure progress, and whether they actually learned?

  • What will make this meaningful and fun?

  • How can I present the information for all learning styles: visual, auditory, written, kinesthetic?

The first type of teaching that I learned was called learner-centered. The idea with this kind of teaching is that you focus on the needs of the individuals incorporating their lives and learning styles into the training. Here is the framework that I learned:


Documentation – Supply the trainee with any pertinent documentation prior to the training session. You will have to decide what is mandatory information and what is recommended information. Give them the mandatory information before the training session and the recommended information after the training session.


Introduction (2-5 Minutes) – Brings up the topic of the lesson in an interesting and relatable way. Can be a question, interesting fact, etc. This part of the lesson should engage the trainee in the procedure they are about to learn. The importance of a proper introduction cannot be overstated!


Procedure (5-15 minutes) – Describe the procedure in detail while performing it. Give the person a chance to ask questions at the end of the explanation. When we think about “training” this is usually what comes to mind. But explaining and demonstrating the procedure to the trainee is only one part of a whole training program.


Controlled Practice (5-10 minutes) – Allow the trainee to perform the procedure. Allow them to reference notes and to make mistakes. Do not jump in and do anything for them or tell them what they should do. Allowing the trainee to employ their critical thinking skills and rehearse the proper order of operations is likely to yield the greatest understanding and proficiency. The preferred way to guide them is by asking them leading questions. We ask the trainee to perform the procedure in front of us so that they can make their mistakes early on. This way you will be there to prompt them to remember things they forgot, or to tell them things that you may have forgotten to include earlier.


Review (5 minutes) – Have the trainee tell you all of the steps they followed in order to perform the procedure. Ask them if they know of anything they forgot (even if they did it perfectly! You are training them to review their actions). After the controlled practice it is important that the trainee repeat the steps of the procedure to you one more time so that you are sure that they know what they are doing.


Free Practice (rest of day) – Allow the trainee to perform the procedure on their own for the rest of the day engaging only if they are hindering the workflow or profitability of the business. It is important for you to allow the trainee to continue to practice the procedure for the rest of the day. They will make a few mistakes here and there but by the end of the day they should be performing it perfectly every time.

Note: During a standard training shift the trainee will be practicing multiple procedures, the sum of the day’s training, during the “free practice” time.


End of Day Review/Follow Up – Review all of the procedures they learned that day. Have them perform the procedure if possible or to tell you the steps. Correct any missed steps. We review again to really make sure it’s in there. If they are able to do it correctly at the end of the day, they can graduate to the next level of training.


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