What makes something valuable? Valuable items are usually labeled unique, in-demand, or scarce. But there are some valuable things that we simply don’t want to be scarce, especially in our work environment. For many organizations, good training can be hard to find. The best leaders look for ways to transform scarce training into a more prevalent part of their operations.
So, how do we create value in something that should be prevalent, like training? Instead of trying to make training like gold, valued for its scarcity, we should make it valuable like good, pure water—or maybe even Gatorade.
Humans add lots of things to water. Sometimes we add nutrients or electrolytes to water to improve it—to get something quality, like Gatorade. Add bad stuff, and you could end up with gross pond water.
Just like everyone needs water, we know all our teammates are going to need training. And it would be great if we could add good things to their training to improve their performance, as we do with Gatorade.
A winning recipe for training is not just a bunch of stuff thrown together—you end up with pond water if you do that. We want training to be as “un-pond-like” as possible. Even adding a bunch of good ingredients doesn’t make for a winning recipe: Many good and beneficial things do not belong in Gatorade. For example, I love asparagus…but thankfully, they have yet to come up with that flavor. When we develop a training program, an intentional approach is critical if we want to provide healthy, helpful training. That means avoiding asparagus-flavored Gatorade and pond water alike. Here’s what that means for training:
- Guard against pond water: Teach employees what they need to know, not everything they could do.
- Give them water: Fight the temptation to throw a dash of everything into training because it’s “good.”
- Work towards Gatorade: Developing with the goal of increasing efficiency, not imposing training.
Guard against pond water
As you develop your training curriculum, it’s important to keep the material lean and pure. Training is great, but once you sell folks on it, they’ll likely want to add to it. While collaboration is key to building any type of training program, it can also confuse learners if it’s not provided in the right venue or channel.
So, what do you do with a well-meaning contributor and their good idea when it isn’t a good fit for your training? Help them deliver it. If their input isn’t germane to the topic, help them find and develop a better channel to deliver it— like a professional-development lunch, email, blog post, or even personal discussion points they could share throughout daily conversations (which is exactly how I got this gig). The benefits are twofold: They’ll learn by teaching others and learners will hear good information from multiple people. Everyone benefits. You’ve just helped your teammates invest in those around them—and you’ve multiplied your training for free.
It’s also important to remember that training is about the learner, not us.
Give employees the secrets and answers to succeed in their roles—it’s not cheating. It actually saves them the time and effort of fighting through battles that have already been won and allows them to focus on getting better at their jobs.
Give them water
Keep in mind that your employees are learning a job, not earning an undergraduate degree. Training is specialization. In our quest to do a good job, it’s easy to emerge from a long project with a behemoth of material. Driven by an admirable desire to fully equip our learner, we put too much material in our training. We don’t have to make learning difficult by unnecessarily weighing down instruction with minutia or impressing learners with how much information is out there. Let’s face it, they probably won’t last long enough to get weighed down—they’ll just stop listening.
In an effort to avoid weighing learners down, remember we don’t have to teach them everything. Instead, give supervisors some supplemental knowledge that they can offer learners later on. By teaching them what they need to know to do their job, then equipping supervisors to put the icing on the cake, you’ll see more effective training and more productive employees. Learners can figure a lot out, and if you’ve done your job well, their supervisors will be the best people to help them develop and progress.
Interested in learning to include supervisors in training? Attend Kyle’s session during Opentalk 2018 to learn strategies to integrate training and operations.
Work towards Gatorade
If you work with great people, they’ll have good ideas. It’s easier to get buy-in from someone to implement their idea than to get their buy-in to implement your idea. If their idea works—or if you can make it work—use it! The value of including the thoughts and ideas of others is far-reaching. It will make your training far more valuable than your voice alone.
Want proof other voices can make you more effective? How many times has someone you cared about rejected what you told them only to accept it from someone else? I know how it makes me feel. If you regard this as a victory, you have indeed won. Saying “I told you so,” isn’t helpful and it leaves your credibility—and your project—worse off.
Being open to the ideas of other means you’ll get more of them—people will want to share them with you. Using them will likely make training more valuable to the learner, the supervisor, and the entire company. If you stick with it, you’ll get more than great training—you might just get that Gatorade poured over your head.
For you non-sportsball fans, that’s a good thing.
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Kyle Van Pelt is the Director of Training at SimpleBills. SimpleBills is a complete utility management service that helps property management companies and owners provide a better resident experience, conserve resources, and realize efficiencies. Learn more here.