Congratulations on your new job! So you’ve had a few days on the job, and you’re working under the guidance of a co-worker who has been asked to take you under their wing and essentially teach you both how to do the job and more importantly how to do the job the way the company expects you to. How’s it going?
If it’s going great and you’re learning all the things you should, no doubt much of the credit for your positive experience goes to the person training you. If you are fortunate, that person is not only good at their job, but they are also skilled at sharing the necessary skills and information to you in such a way that you’re picking things up. This has required two things; you as a motivated and invested learner and of course the aforementioned good trainer.
However, what about those situations where you are placed under the guidance of a trainer who is either too busy to properly train you or the person moves at too rapid a pace for you to fully grasp all the information you are being given? I know of a few people who are pretty intelligent in their jobs but who are not the best trainers when it comes to relaying what they know to others. They are excellent people with friendly smiles and fantastic attitudes too. The problem really is just that when they are explaining concepts, techniques, and processes, they have an expectation that those learning from them absorb the knowledge just as quickly as they share it, and that they learn it as they themselves would understand it if they were on the receiving end.
There are many trainers who make the critical mistake of improperly reading those they are training. It’s not that they are poorly suited to train others, it’s just that they go so quickly, they fail to ensure that those they are training imbed each piece of information they are being given so they can then build on what they’ve just learned and learn more. They may indeed check with the new employee to see what they’ve learned, but they do so using suggestive language such as, “You’re getting all this right?” This kind of question suggests the answer the trainer expects; in this case you’re understanding everything I’m telling you and if you aren’t it’s somehow your problem. Not many people new on the job are going to have the confidence to reply with anything but an, “Absolutely.”
People don’t all learn at the same pace, nor do people all learn the same way. Trainers don’t usually start off by even asking the person they are working with their preference for learning styles. And yet, there it is in a nutshell. Some people learn best by being given a manual to read on their own, others prefer to be shown what to do and some like to be told, shown and then given the opportunity to try on their own under the watchful gaze of the trainer who can check on their learning just a few examples.
I’ve heard some people who are chosen to train others say things like, “Oh it’s so frustrating teaching so-and-so. She’s so slow! I show her something and she just doesn’t get it!” Being on the listening end, it could in fact be that the new employee is indeed overwhelmed and not a good fit for the job. It equally could be the case however that the new employee is not the problem at all, but that the trainer has failed to adapt their training style to match the learning style of the person being trained.
Many people who are excellent workers and highly skilled are just not cut out to be trainers for new learners. What makes things difficult of course is that Management probably sees the person they’ve asked to train the new employee as a superior choice. They do their job very well and are friendly, intelligent etc. so they will make a great trainer. That’s an assumption that just isn’t translating in reality however all the time.
If you are ever put into a position where you are asked to train others and you yourself haven’t been formally trained on how to train others, you should seek out some personal development opportunities on how to become a trainer. Maybe your employer has such classes available at no charge. Train-The-Trainer courses are good places to start so if you have the opportunity make sure you invest in it.
When you are in an interview for a job, one of the questions you might want to pose is to ask about the training you’ll receive when hired, and further how long you’ll be given until you’re expected to be up and running productively on your own. Knowing this timeline can ease your stress level or at the very minimum prepare you for the company’s expectations if they differ significantly from what you would have expected.
It can be a stressful time when you start up with a new company. Their expectations coupled with your own can heap a lot of pressure on you that you’ll have to deal with. Stay positive, don’t expect to learn it all immediately nor work free of errors in the early going. Unless that IS the company’s expectations! AHHHHH!