Note: 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.
Therefore, 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.