Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Thank you so much for joining me for this third week of the Equity Toolkit for your business. So far we have covered hiring practices and compensation. This week we are looking into training and your company's practices around educating your employees.
I welcome your comments on this work. If you would like me to clarify anything or would like to participate in a conversation about this work, please consider commenting in the blog post. I will be addressing questions from this week in next week's video.
The training outline is your opportunity to gather your thoughts on what should be included in your company's training. Consider the resources available to help train, and the amount of time you will need for each component of training. Think about the best way to configure the information so that your trainee gets the most essential information first and builds as they learn.
Schedule training time so that you and the trainee know when training will occur. Some training time will need to be customer facing and other training time will need to be without customers present. Schedule the appropriate amount of each type of training time so that the trainee will have sufficient understanding of their job and time to practice.
Before the training begins provide information and resources that the trainee would find helpful. These may be company or industry specific resources, or they may be publications, websites, videos or books that you think would help them. The more information available up front, the more the employee can immerse themselves in the job at their pace.
When you schedule training time, also schedule follow up time. Follow up time should include a review at the end of the training day, and a review at the end of the training series. This way you can follow up with the trainee to ensure that they understand all of the information you want them to know.
Lastly, be prepared to answer questions. Encourage questions! This encourages your trainee to have curiosity about their job, and helps you to make sure they understand your content. If it is not appropriate for your trainee to ask a question at a particular time, ask them to write it down and ask you later. If you do not know the answer to a questions, tell them that you will find the answer and tell them later. By returning to them with the answer you will build rapport with them, and show that you care about what they want to learn.
Training as a System
The best training programs are iterative systems. This means that as time goes on people return to information to relearn it advancing to new stages of information as they master what they have learned.
We covered preparation in the last section so I won't belabor it here. The next five steps of the training system happen on the day of training.
The Introduction is when you explain what they will learn. An introduction helps the trainee understand what they will be expected to understand, and what new information they will have by the end of the training session or program. It is good to start a training program with an outline of everything that will be covered each day, so that the trainee can be prepared for the next steps.
The Explanation is when you share the information you want the trainee to learn. Explanations can be in person, a video, or in writing. The best explanations teach for all learning types incorporating visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning. This means the people see, hear and do what they are learning.
Controlled Practice is when you give the trainee an opportunity to practice new skills in a way that feels safe for them and for you. This may mean that they practice their new skill just with their trainer for a time, or that they have time on their own to learn before starting to interact with customers. In other situations it is best for trainees to start with customers right off the bat. In this type of situation a trainer is typically with them and answering questions as they come up. It is important that the trainee come into contact with as many difficult and unique situations as possible during controlled practice so that they can learn how to manage those situations. If the controlled practice is to simple it will not adequately prepare them for their work.
Free Practice happens after the trainee has gained a level of mastery in controlled practice. At this point the trainer steps back and allows the trainee to practice on their own. The trainer remains available to answer questions on an as-needed basis.
After all of these steps we move on to review. During this step the trainer checks in with the trainee to ensure that they have retained the most important information and answers any outstanding questions. It is important to note that we learn through repetition, and that we only remember about 10% of what we have learned after one week has passed. This means that trainers need to be comfortable repeating information and providing resources so that trainees can relearn things that they have forgotten.
The foundation of a good training program is the trainer's ability to develop rapport and a professional relationship with their trainee. This comes over time and as the trainer provides information & support, follows through with promises and holds the trainee to expectations.
A great coach allows time for practice. People need time to practice new skills to get them right. We need time to make mistakes and figure out our own ways of doing things. We need to stumble and fall and have the opportunity to get back up again and figure out how to avoid those pitfalls on our own. If we aren't able to learn through practice, we need coaches who are able to help us learn by showing us examples, eliciting information from us (a technique to get trainees to give you information rather than telling them) and telling stories to reaffirm topics already covered.
As trainees gain proficiency over information it is important to continue to provide them with more advanced information over time. This keeps people engaged and interested in their work and shows that you see their progress. In order to facilitate proficiency the trainer can review challenging or difficult topics. This way staff can get extra help on items where they need it, and can move on from the topics that they have already mastered.
With the killing of George Floyd and the protests happening around the world in support of fairness for all people, I felt like June 2020 was a good month to focus on equity in our organizations. Many people felt a responsibility to do something at this time, but were not sure what exactly to do. Fortunately each of us has a sphere of influence in our businesses and organizations where we can implement practices locally that create positive change regionally, nationally and globally.
In this series we focused on four areas of our companies where we may have made decisions by default rather than through careful decision. Many times we create systems of inequity through our reaction and inaction, rather than willfully. This month we will look at hiring practices, compensation, training and corrective action planning. The goal is to see what is there, what has already been created, and to see how we may adjust these systems to create more equity for our employees.