Over the course of the next couple weeks, I am going to share some tips on how to spruce up an old training.
Think about a time you discussed a process, showed the trainees the process and instructed the trainees to practice the process. To your surprise, the trainees didn't follow the process as instructed or as demonstrated. You are disappointed and the trainees are frustrated, right? We've all been there before. Now you have to re-explain and create a different practice activity for them on the spot. Instead try gradual release practice.
This is a version of "I Do, We Do, You Do" in the K-12 setting. Essentially, you are demonstrating a process first. The class can watch the expert do the process. Encourage them to take notes. Then repeat the process as a whole class. This means the you are performing the process, but the class is guiding you through the process with your support. That sounds weird. How do you support someone who is telling you what to do?
Trainer: Okay guys, what is my next step?
Trainee Amy: Well, ummm... i think you should contact the team leader.
Trainee Bob: Maybe you should reach out to the analyst first.
Trainer: (this is you supporting them) Let's look back at our job aid.
Trainee Cade: Oh, okay! The job aid says to reach out to the analyst first.
Trainer: Great Cade! That job aid is your best friend. What do information do you need to supply the information.
Finally, have a trainee practice with the rest of the class telling the one trainee what to do, and you don't offer support. You will only provide feedback at the end. Although you are not guiding the class at this point, they will have seen the process twice. They will feel more comfort with a low stakes practice that won't be counted toward a grade. They will also be eager to demonstrate to you that they understand it. Additionally, if they fail they need to understand the consequence of that failure: will the claim go unprocessed?, will a customer complain?, will they be called into a meeting with the supervisor?, will the program not work? Failure teaches trainees what not to do as well.
After the class observes three demonstrations, allow trainees to work independently or with a partner to apply the practice. At this point, the trainees should feel very comfortable practicing with out so much support. Building confidence is a big part of training employees. If we don't allow trainees the opportunity to fail and learn from their mistakes in a safe environment, they will be too hesitant to make decisions when they are required to perform their actual work on the business floor.
Click the links below to read the other article in the series:
Series: How to Spruce up a Training - Tell Stories
Series: How to Spruce up a Training - Cognitive Processes
Series: How to Spruce up a Training - Collective Problem Solving