April 23, 2013
Training Your Employees
We’ve covered this topic before, but I’ve been asked lately how I engage employees and how do I know they are going to learn AND retain what I teach them? Not necessarily an easy question to answer, but I will do my best to tell you how I do it and why I’m successful at training people in such a lurid and sad topic.
Anybody can train a class of humans. I dare say even a chimp can teach a class of employees (or management) people something and possibly be more effective than some of the consultants/trainers getting paid to do it. Your first step is to ensure that you have a good instructor and material. Without those you’re sunk.
It really doesn’t matter if you have videos, books, manuals, CD’s, Power-points, overhead projectors, or costumed characters running around. If your instructor is as interesting as a cow patty it won’t work. Many people think that Ben Stein is a very dull and boring man in his speech tones. And to most he probably is, it’s monotonous and deep.
But I have also seen people who could read the phone book or even the back of a toilet paper package and keep you on the edge of your seat. Therefore it’s about the instructor not necessarily the material – most of the time.
One of the best managers I ever worked for told me about one of the officers he had during the Vietnam War. The officer was so good, that he would order you to ‘dig a latrine and you would jump at the chance to build a s*** hole for him!’ A tribute to both morale and a good leader/instructor.
A good instructor will find ways to keep their audience involved in what is happening and going on in front of them. Having your classes/seminar participants simply watch videos for 8 hours or so is boring and they won’t get much from it. This is the preferred method for most security ‘guard’ companies, and you can all tell stories of the ‘lowly trained rent-a-cops’ at your business or one you’ve visited. And my opinion is that training is the main reason why – despite any state mandated requirements.
The training method you utilize also has a lot to do with how well it is retained and how well it is received by the participants. I happen to use 3 different kinds of methods all melded together in my classes. It doesn’t work with all of them, but it does work with most.
The first method I use is an oldie but a goodie. KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. This should be a commandment of everyone who trains people. Keep your training simple! It doesn’t matter if you’re training front-line employees, security officers, supervisors, managers, or C-suite executives. Keep it simple.
The reasoning for this is just as simple. You are probably training your participants on something they don’t know. Therefore you need to keep it at a basic level and build upon that as you go along. Even for top executives with MBA’s! They certainly don’t know about workplace violence, at least to the degree you’re teaching them (if they did they wouldn’t have hired you).
The second method that I utilize is called ‘The Socratic Method’. I’ve used this for decades and didn’t even know it had a name until about 10 years ago. But it is a simple yet very effective tool in teaching people. In essence they train themselves!
Instead of telling the class the answers I ask them questions and have them tell me the answers! If they don’t know the answers they sit and stew for a few seconds or minutes until they start to get it. But in the process, they are throwing out answers that are both right, mostly, and wrong. I tell them if they are on the right track or not, but they answer the questions.
And after a few fits and starts, if they haven’t gotten it yet I’ll give them the answer. But that doesn’t happen often.
Again, it’s a matter of dragging the correct answer out of them and making them think it through. Depending on who you’re training, they can over think the answer and never get on the right track or just be as basic as possible and get it on the first try.
Lastly, I employ a ‘shock’ method of training. I usually start my seminars off with having them close their eyes and relax, just like a beautiful spring day and they’re busily working on a project. Then as they are imagining the day and their keyboard, I either slam a book hard onto the table or play a recording of gun shots. That gets everyone’s attention. It makes them sit up, take notice, and wonder what I’m going to do next. And while it may be a bit theatrical and overly dramatic it is effective.
When training security officers or a detailed exercise, I also pound the table or hit the wall as hard as I can. This also has the same effect as the recording of gun shots. They jump, but sit up, take notice, and pay attention.
To re-iterate, you have to have several things to have a good training session and keep the audience engaged in it with you and to summarize here are the main points;
* Educational material they need to know
* Interesting hook to it
* Socratic Method in training
*Shock and Awe– at times
* Instructor driven
* Limited videos and ‘lights out’ mediums
Sollars Security Shield is available to assist you in developing a training program for your employees, security or otherwise. 480-251-5197