“When my 19-year-old called me to find out where the broiler was in our kitchen, I knew I’d let my kids down.” Sarah Willis

If you have ever been trained for a job (some people never get any training), you likely have some memories you would rather forget about a major mistake or embarrassment during that training. If the person training you was a poor trainer or resented the fact that they had to train, your experience was likely even less pleasant, and your memory of that person is likely not very flattering. Is that how you would like to be remembered as you train the next generation of credit staff for your company?

So what could a trade magazine for landscapers teach the desk-bound credit manager? Plenty, if we are to believe Sarah Willis of Landscape Trades magazine. Ms Willis suggests that training approaches, specifically On-the-Job Training (OJT), can be universal, and suggests that there is a 4-stage approach:

  • Keep it simple
    • Put them at ease (no one wants to look dumb). Create a culture where people are not afraid to ask questions, or ask for help, or to try something on their own
    • Show what to do, one step at a time, and explain the reason
    • Let them do it, correct mistakes right away
    • Follow-up, make sure they “got it”
  • Live in the moment
    • Teach one task at a time
    • Teach the task at hand
  • Real-life results
    • If you train in the classroom, ensure you also train in the environment where the work actually happens.
    • Ensure staff know why they are doing what they are doing
  • Invest in success
    • There is a time commitment for trainers, make sure the trainers have the resources to do it right
    • Staff tend to be more confident, and will train new staff in a similar way in which they were trained. Doing it right leads to a well trained work force

Likely the most important is the first step, as it sets the tone for the work to come. Good people do not want to mess up, and it is not fair for them to feel stupid for making rookie mistakes when they are in fact rookies. That experience, good or bad, will be how they treat the people they eventually train (see #4). You could end up with an office full of patient staff, or an office full of mean-spirited people who think humiliation is a good training technique.

When things get crazy at work and you can’t be involved in every decision, your staff will make decisions to get on with their day if you are not there to do it. The two things that will save your bacon will be good procedures and good training.

It is worth doing right!


(Source “Teaching quality, speed and efficiency on the job”, Page 4, 6,7, Landscape Trades, June 2012.


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