Training our trainers

Departments - Cream of the Crop

This month's column looks at how to train effectively in order to build your business.

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February 2, 2021

Cream of the Crop features a rotating panel from the Harvest Group, a landscape business consulting company.

Most of us are in the midst of working on our training programs. This is an area that – as I have talked to different people around the industry – is a continuing source of angst.

We live in an information-rich environment and there are literally hundreds of places to get technical and business information. Association members are lucky to have educational programs, books, videos, DVDs and CDs at their fingertips. These represent some of the most cutting-edge information and data available.

Yet with all of this “stuff,” why is training still a constant source of frustration for both large and small companies? I do not think the problem is in finding the right stuff.

The problem is: Do we, as owners and managers, know how to teach the right way?

Do the people we charge with training – our crew leaders – know how to teach the right way?

To be effective, we as trainers need to be familiar with the nature of the teaching and learning process. We need to understand the processes of teaching, learning and training methods. This will help trainers be in touch with how people learn and retain skills and concepts.

People learn in different ways. An effective training program should focus on five common learning methods.

Basically, before you try to teach, you should know how people learn, which reminds me of a couple of quotes.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius

An effective training program must focus on the trainers as much if not more than the trainees. It needs to examine the following three processes:

  • Teaching is directing the learning process – motivating, reinforcing, satisfying needs and creating interest all toward the trainee’s goals.
  • Learning is the process by which a trainee, through his own activity, becomes changed in behavior.
  • Training methods are those techniques (procedures and processes) used by the trainer to instruct the trainees in the knowledge, skills and competencies necessary to achieve the objectives of the lesson.

It also needs to examine the five basic ways in which people (adults and trainees) learn:

  1. Doing: Performing a new job in the same way, with the same tools and equipment, under the same conditions as they must do this task in an actual real-life situation.
  2. Thinking: Solving a real-life difficulty or problem. Getting the facts needed to solve it, discussing it with others, arriving at decisions, putting the decisions into action and testing them.
  3. Seeing: Observing a thing being done; studying pictures, charts, videos, illustrations and real objects.
  4. Being told: Getting information and instruction through words – written, spoken or printed.
  5. Being checked and corrected: Learning through mistakes brought to their attention in a positive manner by an alert, competent trainer.

In an effective training program, each step is discussed in detail, as is the sequential flow of the process to achieve the maximum effect.

Providing training to your trainers will make them more comfortable and less fearful of their role as a trainer.

Once the training program is embraced, it allows an organization’s trainers to have the familiarity and the self-confidence to train their team members consistently and thoroughly. The result is a safe, competent and effective workforce.

As we all know, training is not a full-time job – it is an all-the-time job. If your trainers have the right tools, they can get the job done for your trainees.