Should we teach our employees like we teach our kids?

This is the question I have been asking myself as I listen to managers complain about the performance of their employees.  When I ask them about the what training, teaching and/or coaching they are providing their employees they look at me with blank stares, speechless, and tell me that there is no budget.  My question is, how can we expect employees to know how to perform the work they are given, or how to improve their performance, without any formal or informal training, teaching or coaching?

Let’s refer back to the parenting analogy I have been using in my previous blog posts.  When our children learn how to tie their shoes for the first time or when we help them with their homework we break down the tasks/problems into simpler steps while encouraging them through that learning process.  We demonstrate patience and assist them as they slowly master the new skill or successfully acquire the new knowledge.  As time progresses we spend less time at their side as they become fully proficient.  We follow up occasionally to ensure success.

We should follow the same principles with our employees.  When we hire new graduates or individuals with previous working experience, or when we promote from within we should always evaluate their ability to accomplish certain tasks.  Once we are able to ascertain their level of proficiency we should them provide them with the one-on-one teaching/training/coaching they require.  Once we are able to ascertain their level of proficiency for the required task, it is incumbent on us to provide them with the one-to-one teaching/training they require.

Once we have imparted this knowledge, we should follow up continuously and offer feedback until we see they are competent to accomplish these tasks.  Further, even though we hire individuals with the requisite knowledge and task skills to perform the duties of their position, we still need to instruct them on how we want the work to be done as each manager/superior has their unique way of performing the task.

I would be remiss if I did not mention performance improvements expected at performance appraisal time.  Employers often advise employees of areas in which their performance needs improvement.  However, they fail to tell the employees how to improve their performance.  Telling employees that they need to improve is not enough.  It is important to show the employees exactly how to rectify the performance issue.  Thereafter, should there still be performance issues, formal training courses should be offered to the employees.

Once this has taken place, proper follow up and feedback is necessary in order to ensure employees have incorporated the new behaviors to reach optimal performance.  Only at that time can an assessment be made as to whether the employee is or is not capable of the required task.

What have been your experiences with the effectiveness of proper training, coaching and feedback?

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2 thoughts on “Should we teach our employees like we teach our kids?”

  1. Very valuable information all “people” leaders need to read, understand, and master through adoption. This is the primary and basic metric a manager should be held accountable for. A KPI spreadsheet will have zero bearing if nobody is there to rate the performance and set a corrective plan. This fundamentally comes down to communication. As leaders, we are responsible to communicate our plan to our teams, ascertain that the message is clearly understood, get the yes, and evaluate the progress. Then we correct and reposition if necessary, fallback to evaluate the final result and then communicate our findings.

    A great read! Thank you

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