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A Better Plan for On-the-Job Training

If you’re thinking using the slower early part of the year to spend some extra time training your employees, you have many options available. In addition to specialized vendor training, online product knowledge courses and group training sessions, many retailers choose to use one-on-one, on-the-job training, usually pairing a newer employee with a veteran employee. While this type of training can be valuable for new hires, it is also useful for teaching existing employees new job skills. But if it’s to be effective, it must be organized and well planned. If on-the-job training is part of your plan this spring, here are some ways you can make sure you get the best results.

Ask, Who, What and When?

If you think one-on-one training is easy because you can fit it in any time you have a spare moment to teach another employee, think again. Like any method of training, one-on-one teaching requires a plan. First ask, “Who will do the training?” Not just anyone can be an effective teacher. Choose someone who has a good attitude and patience, and who wants to be a trainer. You also need to decide what they will be teaching, and be specific about the intended outcome. Make a list of all of the skills the employee needs to learn so the trainer doesn’t forget anything in the process. Thirdly, ask, “When will this training happen?” Don’t just wait for an opportunity; make one. Make sure you dedicate a time when neither the trainer nor trainee’s time will be interrupted. There needs to be adequate time for explaining the skills the employee needs to know, as well as for answering questions.

Make the Lesson Clear and Simple

After you’ve created a plan for who, what and when you will train, it’s next important to clearly state your goal to the employee you’ll be training. Let them know what they can expect to learn and how it will help them better do their job. During the training time, allow plenty of time for questions and explain unfamiliar words or lingo you may need to use. Lessons should always be simple so learners are not overloaded with information, and they should include some time for hands-on experience. For example, if you are teaching an employee how to cut a key, let them try to do one themselves.

Evaluate Employee’s Progress

While you are training, evaluate how the employee is learning. Are they understanding what you are teaching, or is it evident that the task is not suited for them? Address potential problems quickly and always be ready to spend more time training, if necessary. When you are finished, ask the employee if they feel further training might be necessary. If you decide they need further training, consider supplementing with other forms of training, such as online product knowledge courses. A combination of online training and on-the-job training is often the best combination to reinforce learning.

The best training program is always the one that is organized and deliberate. If you would like more information on how to set up a training program for your store, click here to download the Train the Trainer guide, free on www.nrha.org.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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