When I was younger, my dad would always try to teach me and my sister how to tie knots when we were moving. We didn’t have a moving company and we weren’t nomads; these lessons were few and far between. Along with the sparse frequency, the lessons were always very quick. “Take this end, loop it around, pull with your other hand, put this part of the rope in your mouth, take it under, hit a Triple Salchow, and pull it closed.” My sister and I would always just stand and stare, initially in awe and upon the twentieth time seeing it, in frustration.
My father grew up on a farm, owned and operated a boat shop, and drove a tractor-trailer in the off-season. With all of his experience, the man knew his knots and still does. I didn’t have any of those experiences, especially at 13. I eventually made him slow down and walk me through knot-tying 101 when we had downtime one weekend, so now I can do the same thing to my friends. “Take this, make a lasso, throw it over the hitch while standing on the cab, stand on this end with the ball of your left foot, do a few arm circles, and pull the slack through.” Just like myself, they fell for it every time.
Although my father tried numerous times to teach us, we never learned until we made him slow down. Keep that in mind when you’re training your new employees how to do anything at the start. In your years of experience, difficult tasks can grow simple and monotonous, but they still may seem complex to your employees.
Don’t Be Afraid to Slow Down
If you’re teaching your learners something they’re going to do themselves multiple times, slow down. When building a lesson, make sure it covers every detail. You don’t need to define a computer and my dad didn’t need to define a rope, but it was helpful when he showed me the context of when to use which knot. It’s easy to become caught up in excitement and try to get your employees up to speed as quickly as possible. You want to get your employees out of their probationary period, and they want to hit the phones.
Your training might be too fast when your new customer service rep picks up the phone to answer a common question and hangs up in a panic. Pace your training the first time, and you’ll accelerate your onboarding.
I can’t tell you how many times my dad tried to teach me how to tie a knot, but it never stuck because we flew through the lesson faster than he could dock a boat, hogtie a small calf on said boat, then run to a nearby semi truck and hook it up to a set of doubles. We’ve never set up said scenario like this, but I believe it would be under three minutes.
Focus on the Experience
Although I had seen the rope and these knots multiple times, I never experienced it. According to Pepperdine University, experiencing the lesson in as many senses as possible increases retention rates. After I was frustrated, I no longer even attempted to learn until I got the rope in my hands.
If you are speeding through CRM training without your learners actually in the application, they likely won’t fully grasp how to use all of the features. Sure, they will understand conceptually how important it is to add comments to a customer and update their status within the application, but actually doing it could be different.
By integrating elearning with experiential learning, your learners will be able to go through the application at their own pace. Had I had a reference or even a home-video, I could’ve slowed my dad down to about half speed and taught myself how to tie a knot without the
tears frustration, no tears…
Since I didn’t often have the opportunity to walk through this menagerie of knots, I couldn’t easily remember how I got the few fibers embedded in my skin. Until I really tied down my skills, I would pull my dad aside some weekends and have him walk me through a sheepshank or a lariat loop. If I had a lesson or video, I could have reviewed while he was working to impress him when he got home.
You should feel comfortable walking through tasks with your learners and watching to make sure they are not missing a crucial part in the process. If they don’t take the rope back through the initial loop, the knot turns into a bowtie instead of a bowline.
When you slow down, focus on the experience, and have a regular refresher lesson, your learners won’t forget. I even got to show off my rope skills in front of Max the other day when we were moving desks. For every item that’s been in the bed of my truck that I haven’t lost on the highway, I am sure to think of my dad.
The knots of those lessons will never be untangled in my memory banks, similar to the knots I used to move a full-size mattress, mini fridge, dining room table, chairs, and box tv into my college senior house.
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