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Train the right way

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When you teach employees to do their jobs, you probably tell them what to do, how to do it and why it matters. Simple, right? Actually, there's a right and wrong way to train. If you talk too much and bark instructions in a bossy tone, your "students" will shut down. But if you engage people in a positive manner, you can achieve more results in less time.

Follow these pointers:

Paint a big picture. Begin by explaining the goal and the desired outcome of the task at hand. Convey the significance of what's at stake, and why it's important for the trainee to master it.

Describe, don't opine. Teach by showing and telling, not by pontificating. If you start by saying, "This is the most annoying and complicated thing I need you to understand," your negativity can cloud your effectiveness as a trainer.

Adopt an affirmative tone. Frame your to-do comments positively, walking the employee through the process by listing what needs to happen when. Avoid "don't do that" statements such as, "You shouldn't operate the machine without your safety gloves." Instead, reinforce the need to "use your safety gloves whenever you operate the machine." People are more likely to understand and comply with your instructions if you focus on what they must do.

Number your points. Smart trainers group their to-do items in threes. Give the employee three steps, three reminders or three indicators to check. Even better, think of an acronym that helps trainees retain what you say. If you want staffers to welcome customers, invite questions and nod and smile frequently, teach them to WIN (Welcome, Invite, Nod).

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