This week I had a conversation which went like this.
A new employee has joined my prospective client’s team in a leadership role, up until now this company has always used their workers to train workers, however in this instance what became apparent was that it was not a successful training model and was identified as the main source of variation from the service standards as well as processes across the company.
Why? Because each worker does something different and then trains the new worker to do the same. They all do different things, and they might even say things like, I know you’re supposed to do this, but I do it this way because I like it or because I find it quicker and easier. A lot of companies use workers to train workers more than having a trainer who trains everybody exactly the same way and as with this company the variation is massive.
The risks of one worker training another worker include:
- potential knowledge gaps being passed on
- variations in teaching styles affecting learning outcomes, and
- the possibility of reinforcing incorrect practices if the trainer is not well-versed in the subject matter
It’s essential to ensure the trainer is adequately qualified and the training process is well-structured to mitigate these risks.
Research in organizational psychology and education highlights the importance of qualified trainers to ensure effective knowledge transfer. Studies, such as those by Baldwin and Ford (1988) in the field of training effectiveness, emphasize the significance of trainers possessing expertise in the subject matter. Additionally, research by Salas and Cannon-Bowers (2001) emphasizes the need for well-structured training programs to minimize the risk of knowledge gaps and errors in skill transfer. When one worker trains another, there’s a risk of information distortion, akin to the “Chinese whispers” phenomenon. As information passes through multiple individuals, subtle changes or misunderstandings may occur, leading to a distorted final message.
In a training context, if the initial trainer conveys information imprecisely or the trainee misunderstands certain aspects, these errors can amplify, resulting in inaccurate knowledge transmission. Regular checks and clear communication protocols can help mitigate this risk.
In one program I participated in, Marshall Thurber, who’s a student of Deming, demonstrated the challenge of worker training worker in a very clever way.
He set up an exercise where we had to put a marker on the ground and then from a particular distance try and drop a marble on that dot. Sounds easy right? But here’s the thing, when we followed his instructions, the marble would always miss the mark by about 2 inches
Each time we did not hit the mark, we had to put another mark where the marble landed and try again. Why because that was what was actually taught. We would repeat this exercise for about 30 mins. Each time we got further and further away from our intention. It was startling. One persons last dot ended up approximately 100 meters away from the original dot.
The variation was ridiculous.
It was a concrete way to understand what happens when there is no systemised approach to training. No proven process or service standard in place.
Most importantly more than one trainer doing it their way.
Productivity Increase Group (PIG)
My first company was called the Productivity Increase Group (PIG). We grew rapidly, and were very successful, we worked with clients around the world. It started with me and ended up having twenty-one trainers all training as per the standards.
I employed a lady called Helen, who was a trainer who I had worked with in a previous job. Helen became my train the trainer.
A lot of people asked me, why did you employ someone to train your trainers? Why didn’t you do it yourself?
The short answer was, I was the worst person to train the trainers, because I would not always train the course exactly the same way. I was always looking for ways to improve the training course and would try things on in a moment. If I was happy with the change and thought we should make an overall change we did. The trainers did not have the right to change the program without permission. The train the trainer program was brilliant because I was working on improving the program. I would sit in and observe, read the room and say, we need to adjust this aspect of the training. It was all about consistent improvement.
Helen was the one who just trained the course exactly as it was designed to ensure that we had twenty-one trainers running a very successful program the right way.
In the work we do at the ‘The Loyalty Zone’ with our six-step to success which is all about minimising variation and growing appreciation:
Focus on six key areas to drive revenue imporovement
1. Customer and staff research
The first critical step is to understand what your customers are saying about your business. We research your customers using NPS™, measure your business against industry best practice and recommend actions to improve your scores. We then present this in a workshop to engage all your teams.
2. Moments of truth service standards
We then help you identify all your customer journey Touchpoints and create Service Standards for each one to ensure a 10/10 experience is delivered in your business for every customer, every time.
3. Leaders as coaches
Through our award-winning two-day ‘Leaders as Coaches ‘program, your leaders will learn the techniques, behaviours and skills required to help their teams succeed in delivering the Service Standards, ensuring your customers return and spend more.
4. Training frontline teams
Your teams attend a half-day training course that will improve their communication and conversion rates, while they practice delivering the key Service Standards to deliver a 10/10 customer experience every time. We can also train key people within your business to deliver this training.
5. Test and measure
To accurately measure the transformation of your teams, we work with you to build and implement test & measurement systems to ensure we are measuring the things that will make the difference.
6. Continuous improvement
The key to any development program is what happens after the training. It’s what you do with what you know that makes the difference! Frequency of interaction drives improvement, so in some cases, on-going monthly coaching is required. Plus, every subsequent round of research includes a full-day session with your business.
What are you doing to identify where your variation exists and then act to minimise it and build on your appreciation in your business?
Need more information? Have a look through my previous Blogs, located on The Loyalty Zone website or contact me, I look forward to hearing from you.
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