Have you ever heard the phrase "Those that can do, and Those that can't teach" I am not exactly sure if I agree with this statement because in my years in the workforce I have had many a people try and teach me the job that was in front of me. I can tell you right now; they were not very good teachers. But they weren't well on their way to something else either. With the different jobs that I have had I learned a few things about the bad teachers and a few about the good. I have come up with a top 5 list of why not everyone can teach.
#1 Forgetting What it is Like at the Bottom
Everyone one of us had to start somewhere, usually it is at the bottom. At the bottom of the totem pole everything is new to you. You have no idea what the routine is like and what to do. This is true even if you've had a job similar to the one you're currently in. When training a trainee, it is required to slow down and explain the basics of the job so the new person can understand. This can be hard for a trainer to do because he/she may feel rushed to complete the tasks at hand and cannot do that with a trainee.
However this is not easy for all people to do. After you learn a job, you learn tricks or shortcuts that work for you to make the job easier and more efficient. Doing the job your way becomes second nature to the point where you may forget what it is like at the bottom when you just learned the job. When training someone you cannot take the shortcuts that you may have developed because what works for you may not work for someone else. Although you can explain why you take the shortcuts you do but don't assume the new person will take the same shortcuts.
#2 Trainer has a hard time breaking down tasks into easier components
After you have been at a job a while tasks become second nature that you complete them easily without thinking. It is not easy to break down the tasks into smaller parts. The best way to complete this is to think of all of the steps that it takes to complete the task. My husband does this to me a lot. He has been a farmer for his entire life. I have lived in the city my entire life. That is until I met him. Don't get me wrong, I know which animal beef(cow) or pork(pig) come from and not necessarily from a grocery store. However, I don't know all the ins and outs of farming. It's even worse when he explains his job which is fixing agriculture equipment. My husband goes right into a task and starts telling me the end of the task expecting me to know exactly what to do. Obviously this doesn't work.
As you are thinking about the steps of each tasks, write them down. If need be give this list to the trainee so they have a checklist of how to complete each task to help them remember the steps. I know this is not always convenient because sometimes a trainer doesn't know they are training someone until he/she gets to work. But this is something that management can do ahead of time.
#3 Lose Patience with Trainee
This is a big deal and happens a lot. The trainee has gone through the training successfully but is still in his/her probationary period. The trainee is working on his/her own and he/she makes a mistake or forgets something. The trainer is nowhere in sight to help the person out. When the trainer comes back and finds out what the trainee has done proceeds to yell at the trainee for messing up.
When training someone new remember there is a learning process in which the trainee or student observes what is done, tries it out with lots of help (scaffolding), and gradually that help is taken away until they are not receiving any help. This may not happen all at once so don't get frustrated with the trainee.
When my husband and I were first dating, he was making this beautiful grill stand out of metal for his mother. I thought this was great because maybe he would want to make me one. Boy was I naive! No not even close! Instead my husband thought it would be a great idea of a project we could do together.( Insert rolling of the eyes here) He had an ulterior motive: He wanted me to learn the tools that he uses so I could help him with things around the farm.
We pick out the metal from what's laying around the farm. This means that the metal is pretty rough looking and rusty. We have to clean the rust off, buff any rough spots, cut it to size, weld, paint, etc. So he teaches me how to clean the rust off of some of the pieces. He is standing next to me and watching me to do just fine.
The next thing I know, he is gone and doing something else. If you know anything about using a buffer with metal, you know that sparks fly off. If you are not paying attention, these sparks go in directions you don't want them to. Well I wasn't paying attention, and before I knew it, I burnt a hole in my sweatshirt.
You're probably thinking that I should have felt the heat. My husband had already thought about this without telling me because he had me wear three layers of clothing that day. I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a short sleeved t-shirt, and a long sleeved t-shirt. (It was mid-July) Needless to say, my husband yelled at me when he came back and noticed that I had burnt a hole in my shirt.
Yelling at the trainee within the probationary period will just make you have to train a new person. Instead pay attention to where the trainee is and what they are doing. Be within range for asking questions and help. Be proactive and ask them how they are doing and if they have any questions or what he/she is planning on doing next.
#4 Have no experience training or situation at hand
I don't think my husband had much experience with teaching someone else how to learn something from scratch, so it was hard for him to break things down for me to understand at first. He is getting better. This happens more than you think.
For example when I am subbing in a classroom, I have a hard time dealing with bad behavior because I was taught to respect others no matter what. So when I am dealing with a student who has no respect for authority it frustrates me. Over time, you learn how to handle situations based on what has worked or not worked in the past and changing it to fit the situation.
#5 Attitude of Teaching or Training
I don't know how many times I have been trained by someone who doesn't want to train anyone. They are just there to do their job and get a paycheck. The last thing the employee wanted to do was train someone. This sends a bad taste in the mouth of the trainee because the trainer has a bad attitude toward the job, trainee and world in general.
Do you really think the trainee is going to do a good job knowing some of the attitudes around the job? Do you think the trainer did a good job training the trainee? Probably not. So when deciding who to train others think about what the person's attitude is going to be before giving the job away. Maybe think of some incentives to training others. If you can put extra staff on so the trainer doesn't feel like they have two jobs to complete that shift; their own and training.
Do you have any suggestions for training someone knew? Let me know.
My name is Stena Schmitt.
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