Employers constantly focus on developing and improving their employees to drive their company forward. Employees often fall along a range of skills, from novice to innovator, and employers have to meet them where they are in order to identify what skills or behaviors they should aim for. Once those skills are identified, managers can begin the process of training, explaining why a new skill or behavior is valuable, and guiding the employee through an iterative training process requiring less and less manager/director intervention, with the end goal of independent proficiency.
Successful employee training should begin with stating a cause: What is the goal of their training? What does their desired performance do for the customer? How does that behavior impact the company as a whole? Creating a clear case for their performance will encourage employees and set the stage.
Rather than jumping immediately into training, employees should observe the ideal behavior. This sets the standard for them, so rather than them having to guess at what an idealized behavior looks like, they have a clear example. Clarity from an example gives them something to strive for while also grounding the goal; in other words, seeing someone else perform makes it seem achievable.
For complex or multifaceted employee training goals, giving employees small and achievable tasks can create momentum. Consider the example of learning about a new software dashboard. Asking the employee to attempt to navigate the entire platform right away is guaranteed to overwhelm and discourage. However, giving small tasks, like creating a new customer’s basic information in a CRM tool, can help give them confidence by establishing a small, early “win.” This small win will give them opportunities to string together other small tasks. These unique pieces create momentum, and once enough are strung together, employees are able to connect them and begin to achieve the greater goal at hand.
Working on a behavior or task with an experienced partner expected to perform the same task is a good way to “soft launch” an employee in an active situation. A partnership instills confidence the first time an employee is trying to do something on their own. Furthermore, a partnership gives them a reference point in a “live” scenario to ask questions that naturally won’t arise until they’re under pressure and performing a tasks or skill in an active environment.
Performing under observation
In most workplaces, observation will be continuous, even once employees are proficient in a task or behavior. However, close observation once an employee is flying solo on a skill or behavior will give experienced managers and directors an opportunity to help the employee fine-tune his or her skill.
Semi-regular observation, continuous improvement, and fine tuning characterize the full performance of a skill or behavior. In particular, regular reviews can allow managers and directors to continue to help the employee improve. Importantly, looking at metrics helps employees understand the efficacy of their skill performance, and how well it measures against their goals. Meeting or exceeding metrics tells them all they need to know, and falling short cues managers and directors to help the employee through more observation and feedback.