How to <em>Really</em> Train Your Employees

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[Editor's Note: We wrote "Part 1" earlier, but we felt it didn't cover what you needed.] Scenario: "Dude, to make our employees kick ass, let's get them reading more books. Then, we'll give them lecture slides. Yay!" Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. You could give Sandy the best basketball manuals, coaches, trainers, and facilities around; but that won't make her a better basketball player. In the same vein, you can teach your employees all you want; but you won't make them kick ass at what they do -- until you expose them repeatedly to what they do.

A Lesson from High School Math

Take a high school mathematics course for instance. You remember the lectures. You remember reading the textbooks. But what prepared you best at for those math tests? It wasn't those:
  • lecture slides,
  • formula handouts,
  • tutors
  • teacher assistants, or even:
  • your teacher
It was just this: doing those many problem sets as possible.

How to Train Your Employees

If you're training your computer programmers to be the kick ass superstars you know they could be, don't give them programming books; give them some challenging application to program. If you're training cooks, don't give them online cookbooks; get them cooking as many times a day as possible. Still a little confused? Peep this:
  • better soccer players --> play soccer as much as possible
  • better programmers --> code programs as much as possible
  • better writers --> write as many stories as possible
  • better salespeople --> sell as many times as possible
  • better ___________ --> do that as many times as possible
Michael Jordan didn't become a kick-ass basketball shooter just because of his talents. Yes, his talents played a big role; but his jillion basketball shots per day transformed him from "potentially great" to "greatest player ever."

How to Build Your Training Programs

The NFL, the NBA, the FA Premier League, the American Ballet Theatre, and any others that demand a high level of performance all do it: On off-days, professional athletes practice what they'll do in real games. Coaches create those training opportunities for them to build their kick-ass skills. So when you're trying to make employees better for the real thing, mirror the real environment as much as possible. For instance, if you're trying to improve your salespeople, create "practice sales zones" where they could practice selling items to each other (or you).

Aristotle once said, "We are what we repeatedly do."

And that dude was so, so right. To help your employees kick ass what they do, let them do it, incessantly. Your employees are begging to become better; they just don't know how to do it. But as the job of kick-ass manager, your badass now does. To really train your workers, use this template:

"I want my employees to kick ass at: ___________________, so I'll get them doing it as many times as I can."

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Posted on October 12

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