Performance Base Your Training For Early Success

hiring right 5Note: This is the fifth article in a series on decreasing turnover and increasing profits. In the previous four articles Terry discussed turnover  (High Turnover Is NOT Just Part of the Business), who to hire (What It Takes to Attract and Hire Recruiting Winners), setting expectations,  training (Your Onboarding Should Not Be Like A Box of Chocolates), and standards (When You Set Standards and Manage to Them, Everyone Knows Where They Stand).


Are we confident because we are competent or are we competent because we are confident? Regardless of the answer, in order to be successful an individual must be both confident in their approach to, and competent in their application of the basic concepts and fundamentals of this business. Getting to that point and beyond is the objective of Performance Based Training.

How important is training in determining whether or not an individual will be successful in this business? Next to hiring the right people it may be the most important factor.

Most owners/managers agree that typically the individuals they hire have the capacity to be successful in this business. Nevertheless, the vast majority of these new hires do not achieve success because they do not put in a consistent effort on a daily basis, or the effort they do put in is generally of poor quality. Based on the results, their managers believe these individuals lack the necessary personal motivation to be successful. However, in many cases, it’s not a lack of personal motivation but rather a lack of confidence that determines the end result.

Certainly, on rare occasion, we have the opportunity to hire a “super star” who will succeed regardless of whether or not they receive adequate training. However, for the vast majority of our “good hires,” proper training is essential to early success; and early success is important to sustain personal motivation. As the trainee begins to achieve positive results from their efforts, both their confidence and competence will grow. With proper direction and on-going skills development, this cycle repeats itself. Positive results build confidence, confidence builds competence, and increased competence builds ever improving results.

The opposite is also true. Without the benefits of on-going skills development, the trainee’s confidence remains low, they become mechanical in their approach, their results are inconsistent, and they receive little positive reinforcement for their efforts. Consequently, they begin to concentrate on pleasing processes versus positive results. Unless the cycle is broken, turnover will result.

In many instances, their training consists of reading and observing, with little assistance in applying this knowledge. Their initial efforts produce marginal results, and their lack of confidence begins to generate avoidance behavior. They are defeated, discouraged and frustrated.

Training illustrationTherefore, as trainers, our greatest challenge is to help our trainees increase their confidence through a results oriented, skills development training program that concentrates on building their competence on the job. This can be accomplished through a properly structured and administered Performance Based Training Program.

Teaching Or Training?

Before looking at the structure of such a program, let’s begin by drawing a distinction between teaching and training. Teaching is a process for conveying information and fact. Training also includes a process for conveying information and fact, but then goes the next step and guides the trainee to action; to put the information and facts to use. It’s this action step that separates teaching from training, and it’s this action step that is missing from most training (teaching) programs. It is through this action step and the subsequent feedback step that specific skills or skill sets can most readily be developed.

Performance Based Training focuses on skills development. With this approach, you concentrate on developing one skill area (or skill set) at a time. Trainees do not move forward until you are convinced they are conceptually sound and fundamentally secure. This is accomplished through the careful application of a five-step process.

Step 1: Provide the trainees with the basic facts, information and background material they require in order to perform the necessary tasks. Typically this information is provided through classroom training, in-office observation, video and audiotapes, Web-based training, and/or the use of printed materials, i.e., training manuals, programmed learning texts, training handouts.

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Step 2: Through questions and answers, written review, and possibly programmed learning exercises, make certain the trainees understand the facts, information and background material. Their understanding is critical to the success of the application step.

Step 3: Provide the trainees with an extended opportunity to apply what they have learned, first, through role-play, and then in a real life setting on the desk. Recording calls, as well as personal observation, is important in preparing for the feedback step that follows.

Step 4: The trainees must receive timely feedback on how they are applying what they have learned. In this phase you must remember to reinforce the positives while providing specific suggestions on how to improve. Additionally, their recorded calls provide them with a tool for self-critique and an unbiased view of their effectiveness.

Step 5: Repeat the first four steps until you are reasonably certain their basic skills (or skill sets) have been established and the trainees are fundamentally sound and conceptually secure. It’s through this repetition that confidence grows and competence is developed.

Performance Based Training is a tightly structured, results oriented program that requires a disciplined approach to the process of learning. Yet, depending on the resources utilized, it may not require any additional time than has traditionally been required with your existing approach to training. Properly conducted, Performance Based Training can quickly build the confidence level of your new hires, develop critically important skills areas, keep them focused on positive results and ultimately provide you with an improved return on your investment of time, effort and resource.


Do not expect your trainees to give a greater level of commitment to the job than you gave to them in the hiring and training process.

Our next article we will address the subject of personal motivation. Meanwhile, if you have questions or comments about this article or wish to receive my input on any other topic related to this business, just let me know. Your calls and emails are most welcome.

Recipient of the Harold B. Nelson Award, Terry Petra is one of our industry's leading trainers and consultants. He has successfully conducted in-house programs for hundreds of search, placement, temporary staffing firms and industry groups across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, England, and South Africa. To learn more about his training products and services, including PETRA ON CALL, and BUSINESS VALUATION, visit Terry can be reached at (651) 738-8561 or click to email him.


2 Comments on “Performance Base Your Training For Early Success

  1. I have had the pleasure of working as an executive recruiter since March, 2001. Over the past 13+ years, I’ve collected slightly over $3.3 million in recruiting fees – not stellar, but steady.

    By early 2001, the “I.T. Bubble” had burst and unemployment was rampant in every industry that was tech-related. One of the worst hit areas in the entire country was the “Telecom Corridor”, located within the Dallas metro area. So, by March of 2001, I had quit my six-figure job, relocated my family to a new city, and started working as an I.T. Recruiter who served…yep…the Dallas market. It took me four weeks of complete focus on marketing to get my first search and another six weeks to fill it – in an almost completely dead market…I was operating on pure fear and adrenaline. I made my second placement the next month, and another one the month after that.
    Even with a few placements under my belt, due to the uncertainty and what I perceived to be poor performance in my new career choice, I thought very
    seriously about quitting at least twice that first year…but I didn’t. The rest is history.

    Everyone says they’ll do whatever it takes to be successful when they interview for a position with our company, but most don’t follow-through. As a newer recruiter, until you develop the skill-sets that will allow you be a productive recruiter in any industry at almost any time, you as a newer recruiter need to just plain hustle – all day, every day (and night). You need to live and breathe recruiting, even if it means putting your family on the back-burner for a while (I know this sounds harsh, but it’s reality and it’s only temporary). The nuances of what to say and as important, how to say it; and when and how to listen, how to ask and when to ask the right open-ended question to elicit a specific response to push someone in the right direction…much of this stuff can’t really be taught…you learn through repetition (lots and lots of repetition). What you are primarily taught in our company and really at any recruiting firm is Process, which is important; Process is the “Science” side of the business. The “Art” side of the business are all the items I previously mentioned and it’s something that takes years to master…bottom line: the harder you work, the
    sooner you’ll get better. Ask yourself, “Does my present level of effort and follow-through reflect my full potential?” If your answer is “no”, then fix it – start now. I could sell anything, and I’m telling you – God willing, this is the business I’ll be in for the next 25-30 years.

    One other thing – people will only buy from you if they perceive you to be credible. Candidates and hiring-officials alike want to work with a recruiter who they believe is
    dialed-in to their market, their industry…they want to work with The Best. Until you become “The Best”, at the very least you need to project a high level of confidence combined with credibility; in other words: Executive Presence. You are on the same level as anyone with whom you speak. You never thank someone for their time – your time is as valuable as is theirs. You are connected & influential – this is the type of recruiter with whom Top Candidates and Top Clients will feel a natural connection. Fake it ‘til you make it…you are on stage.

    If all else fails, lean on the immortal words of Ty Webb and “Be the Ball”.
    – The Closer

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