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Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

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Siere - Copyright 2020

The Question of Training Employees


There isn't a business owner or leader who doesn't want to see their employees excel. We want to see them grow and learn because, after all, when they succeed our jobs become easier, our businesses grow and we take great pride in seeing their accomplishments.


In the last couple of weeks one of my clients was talking through some of the issues they are having with one of their employees. They had become frustrated in the fact that even when employees weren't really performing, they felt hostage to keep them because it took so much to train new ones. The owner told me, he had come to believe that while he was good at a lot of things, training people wasn't one of them.


This conversation got me thinking a lot about the whole idea of training and learning and of course, this wasn't the first time. We have all experienced this frustration on some level, including myself. So what is the answer?


I am not sure there is one nice, contained answer to this (we could only wish), however here are two things to consider the next time:


Reverse The Role

Typically when someone is teaching another individual, they try to impart everything they know to the other person by giving them instruction and showing them how they would do it. If this worked, likely we would all be able to play the piano, fix our cars, ride a horse and anything else we could watch on YouTube, but we can't.


Learning is the process of building the neuropathways in your brain and while some people can learn by listening and watching, a majority of people have to "question" and "do" to learn. They can not understand what you are telling them, until they have experienced it, or until they attempted to do something and failed.


If you have ever asked someone who is really skilled at doing something, how they do it, they say something like, "oh, its easy...you just do this, this and this". People who are really good at a skill, have become oblivious to what they really do, in performing it. They gloss over much of the detail and thought process, because It has become instinctual and they no longer have to think.


What if you were to let them ask the questions and pull from you the information? Would they ask you different questions, than what you might? Would it allow you to understand whether they were really getting the important aspects of the job? What would it hurt to try it?


Yes, it is going to feel strange, but doing something the same old way, will get you the same results and then who isn't learning then?


Learn To Fail

Sometimes there is a belief by business owners and leaders that they can't let anyone fail. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, "Its just easier to do it myself".


Easier on who? From my perspective, this is where business owners and leaders go out to hide. You see in the "easier to do it myself zone" you don't have to experience your own failure in not being able to translate your knowledge. You don't have to figure out what else you should be doing to grow your organization. You get to feel accomplished and successful and don't have to face up to the fact that there are new and sometimes difficult challenges, and you are going to have to do some learning to be able to face them. In the "easier to do it myself zone", you get to put your failures on someone else.


I know this might sound a little harsh, but recognize it is coming from a good place and believe me, I have had my own struggles with this. Today, great leaders and business owns really demonstrate and teach resilience. It isn't about how many times you make a mistake or fail, it is really what you do about it. You became great at doing the things you do because you made mistakes and failed along the way. You are going to do it again, but if you sit in the "easier to do it myself zone", please recognize that this is where you are going to stay, even if you have dreams of getting to something else.


When you recognize that your employees are going to fail, but you believe in them enough that they can also grow to come up with the solutions, you will soon recognize the same thing in you.