One of the most important things you do each day is help your employees become better.
Yet, only about 10% of managers say their jobs are structured so they can focus some time on coaching employees, a McKinsey study found.
So, it’s no surprise many managers don’t feel they have the time or resources to polish their training skills.
How do you become a better trainer?
Well, there’s probably no better model than your old 3rd grade teacher.
“. . . There are many things that leaders of all stripes can learn from teachers,” Hoff says. “They are, outside of our parents, the first true leaders in our lives and those that we turn to for knowledge, guidance and direction.”
These six proven tactics from top-notch schoolteachers can help any manager become a training god.
1) Plan With a Clear, Measurable Objective
Great classes are built on a lesson plan that includes:
- an instructional objective
- the resources to reach it, and
- a tangible result.
Everything needs to be concrete – from what you want to accomplish and the tools you’ll use to achieve a hard result.
When you plan the objective and result, avoid fuzzy phrases such as “understand,” “believe” and “grasp the concept.” Set goals that will be measured after training.
- “90% of employees will pass the skills assessment test”
- “Production time will drop 10% before peak season,” or
- “Errors will drop 5% within one week of new software training.”
And don’t leave any resource to chance. Line up the tools – whiteboards, laptops, software, manuals, guest trainers, vendors, etc. – ahead of time.
2) Get Them Engaged
Teachers don’t just lecture while students sit quietly and take notes. Teachers take cues from students.
They watch and listen for activities, events and situations that excite them. Then teachers incorporate those into the learning.
For instance, at a Walgreens distribution center in the Southeast, most employees are autistic. Trainers tweaked training to match their interests – perhaps one loves football, so his training is themed around teams, stats and games, explains Steve Pemberton, Walgreens Chief Diversity Officer and Divisional VP.
Pay attention to what excites your team or individual employees – maybe its sports, arts, astrology, history or cars — and use those as themes to engage them in training.
3) Tweak the Environment
Teachers know that not all students learn in the same formats. And not all subjects are meant to be taught with the same approach.
That’s why teachers will cover the same subject in a variety of ways when necessary. Some subjects are good for whole class instruction. Other subjects are a better fit for cooperative or individual work.
And most subjects need mention in more than one format – some combination of classroom, email, Intranet, side-by-side coaching, etc.
Mix it up. Include classroom, online and hands-on training as often as you can.
4) Get Passionate
The most memorable teachers are passionate. Think about your favorite. You probably could feel and recognize how much he or she loved the subject.
You may not be as passionate about software updates now as your literature teacher was about mythology back then.
But you can add passion to any training session by keeping yourself and employees focused on how the new skills and knowledge will help them succeed even more.
5) Grab Your Teaching Moments
The best teaching doesn’t always happen in a structured classroom fitted neatly into a lesson plan.
It often happens organically – on field trips, in the hall, sparked by an insightful question.
That can happen at work every day, too.
Use organic moments to help employees explore a deeper meaning. When employees ask questions, answer them. Then talk about how the task or project in question affects the company’s big picture.
Don’t just teach the material. Ask employees why they think what they learn is important and how it will make them and your organization better.
6) Final Note: Be a Role Model, Too
Kids naturally look up to their teachers. They like the structure and guidance classroom leaders offer.
Same can be said for employees. Good training isn’t just about skills and knowledge. Explaining how you use ethical standards and professional integrity to make decisions is important, too.
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