How to: Properly training your trainers

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Updated Jun 4, 2020

instructor holds pen while teaching a training sessionFred Haskett, head harvester with The Harvest Landscape Consulting Group, recently hosted a webinar to talk to landscaping companies about how to develop a well-trained, safe and effective workforce.

This, he says, can be done by understanding how to properly train your trainers.

“Your best recruiter is a well-trained workforce,” says Haskett. “The more positive buzz you have about your workforce in the community, the more you’re going to attract good people into your company.”

Haskett says people will always default to their highest level of training. While there are numerous resources available to trainers nowadays, Haskett says it’s vital that effective trainers understand both the teaching and learning process.

“I don’t think the problem is finding the right stuff; it’s all around us,” says Haskett. “The problem is do we as owners and managers know how to teach the right way? Training is truly teaching, and teaching is a unique skill.”

When teaching, Haskett says you are responsible for driving the process forward for the trainees. It’s up to you to satisfy the needs of your students and drive them toward their goals in an interesting and rewarding manner.

“Mostly, we use our crew leaders and supervisors to do the bulk of the training because they are out there doing the jobs, and those guys are good at their jobs,” says Haskett. “But are we making sure that those people we are charging with the training process, that we’re handing over that training process to, do they know how to teach? They certainly know how to do the job, but do they know how to teach?”

Proper training methods

According to Haskett, training methods should deliver content and information, maintain trainee engagement and ensure trainees grasp the presented concepts.

“Training methods are used to instruct trainees to acquire the knowledge necessary to practice the skills required to develop the core competencies in all the various tasks you’re training them to perform, in light of the production work you’re going to do,” says Haskett.

But before you jump into teaching, Haskett says you must first know the ways adults learn best.

Generally speaking, Haskett says people remember:

  • 10 percent of what they read
  • 20 percent of what they hear
  • 30 percent of what they observe
  • 50 percent of what they see and hear
  • 70 percent of what they say and write down
  • 90 percent of what they do and actually perform in the learning process

“Your job as a teacher/trainer is to select the way or combination of ways best suited not only for your trainees but also to the particular task or subject being taught,” says Haskett. “You want them to be effective, safe and efficient so we’re making money in a safe environment and delivering good quality.”

Haskett says since people learn the most by doing, you want to try and make your training as real as possible by letting them perform a task like they would have to in real life.

According to Haskett, people learn by performing a new job in the same way, with the same tools, with the same equipment and under the same conditions. Because of this, he says you’ll want to make your training areas as similar as you can to the fields they’ll be working in every day.hand holding pen and writing on paper on clipboard during a training session

Haskett notes that people also learn by thinking and solving real-life difficulties. These situations allow them to gather the necessary information for themselves, discuss with others on their team to reach a decision, put these decisions into action and learn by testing the decisions they made.

Haskett notes that the more hands-on learning you can provide, the better suited your employees will be when it comes to retaining the information long term.

“If the trainer is passive or is just going through the motions, you’re going to fail,” says Haskett. “You’re not going to have the outcome you’re looking for, and the folks you’re trying to train are going to take twice as long to be effective and efficient in the field.”

Following the process

Throughout his career, Haskett says he’s noticed that adults learn best through a specific combination of processes, and trainers have to be deliberate with incorporating this process.

The process Haskett suggests companies adopt is called “Show, Do, Watch, Coach,” which has 12 steps that Haskett says must be followed consistently and in order. This process, he says, will make people more comfortable and less fearful in their role as a trainer.

“You can’t skip steps,” he says. “If you skip steps, you’re diluting the results, and you’re shortchanging your trainees and allowing your trainers to take short cuts that do not deliver the outcomes you want.”

The steps are as follows:

  1. What – Explain what it is that you are going to train on.
  2. Why – Explain why you do the action are going to train them on.
  3. Listen – Have the trainee explain what and why you do a specific procedure.
  4. Show – Demonstrate the specific procedure.
  5. Do – Have the trainee demonstrate the specific procedure.
  6. Watch – Observe the trainee demonstrating the specific procedure.
  7. Coach – Explain what the trainee did right and what needs to be corrected.
  8. Show – Repeat the demonstration of the procedure and emphasize what the trainee needs to correct.
  9. Do – The trainee re-demonstrates the process with the corrections you demonstrated.
  10. Watch – Observe the trainee re-demonstrating the procedure.
  11. Coach – Explain to the trainee what did right and what needs to be corrected. Steps 8-11 can be repeated as necessary.
  12. Praise – Complement the trainee on his or her successful accomplishment.
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