For the past week, I’ve been training a new assistant. It’s difficult to remember what it was like when I was the new kid on the block because everything has become second nature. Taking those steps backward can be challenging because you have to think as if you’ve never set foot in the job before. He was a bit nervous when he started, but he’s doing great. The most challenging aspect for him has been thinking through what he needs to do. He’s panicked a few times and beat himself up. I’ve reminded him that if he didn’t have much computer training, to begin with, he was going to struggle but that I’d get him up to speed. I’m excited about what he’s learning because watching him begin to understand what to do is terrific. No one can tell me that we can’t learn new skills because I’m doing it, and I’m watching him embrace new skills and talents.
The training opportunity with him made me think about measures that people can take when they train others. I opted to throw him into the trenches and teach him as we went. The main reason is that getting hands-on experience can often help more than reading a book or watching videos. I have a checklist that we follow, and he’s catching on quickly. If he weren’t, I’d find different ways to help him adapt, but so far, he’s proving he can keep up.
Here are some helpful hints I found online that might help you when you train someone. It’s a struggle to remember what is new is like, but having some compassion for the other person, can make them feel more at ease and productive.
- Get Ready to Listen and Observe. Many times people have lots of questions, or they may be nervous. Please do what you can to put them at ease. You don’t have to be menacing to get the most out of people. Listen to them, and don’t make snap decisions. You could be way off the mark. If they don’t feel comfortable with certain areas, be willing to work with them. No one gets better at anything if they don’t try.
- Start with Frequently Asked Questions. Some of the questions you get may seem trivial to you. You have done the job so much that you can do it in your sleep. The person coming in has no idea what is expected. The job interview may have provided an outline, but most people struggle until they know the lay of the land. If they don’t know where things are, be prepared and answer those questions.
- Provide Resources for Additional Training. Training manuals, videos, and other assisting aides are essential in training. There isn’t a training manual for the assistant manager or manager’s job at my company, so I’m creating one. The position may evolve, but it never hurts to cut and paste things into a manual. Edits are necessary to keep things current.
- Show Them How it’s Done. I make a point to show a new employee how to do something and then put them in the driver’s seat. I don’t leave them alone until they can ask more questions and get comfortable with the information. No one can expect a new employee to be perfect when they start, and there will be growing pains. If you show that you can think on your feet, they will find that they can utilize their minds to solve problems.
- Emphasize “Practice Makes Progress” I know with my new assistant, I have reiterated this to him several times. It’s easy to criticize people, but it’s more challenging to make someone feel better about their progress unless they have a chance to practice. When they finally get it, it’s like a light bulb goes off, and their face and entire demeanor light up. It’s a beautiful sight to behold.
- Be Approachable for Questions. If you are barking orders all day long, new employees will not want to ask questions. They may assume, and we all know what that does. Be willing to let others come to you for questions. You might learn as much from them as they do from you.
- Show them empowerment. I love the word empowerment. There’s a lot of pride that comes with that term. When people are empowered, they feel more confident, happier and produce more work. Giving a person the empowerment they need can make all the difference in their jobs and lives. When they are doing well, praise goes a long way, and if they screwed up, find ways to let them know it’s okay. We all make mistakes.
I know training is tough psychologically. It took everything out of me last week because I was training someone new and doing my other work. But once you get through the hurdle, you find yourself learning from each other. The trainee may become the trainer at some point. Remember that we all had to start somewhere. We have to be willing to keep growing and learning. Once we do that, we have no limits to what we know. Have a great day, everyone.