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Employee Training: Mind the Gap


Once you’ve figured out exactly what your training needs to accomplish, it’s time to find the disconnects. By identifying the differences that exist within your company, you can create strategies and solutions to make sure everyone is on the same page. Here are two gaps that you must be mindful of when training employees:

1. Transferring Knowledge and Understanding

After you’ve identified the information gap, there are two different ways to transfer that knowledge throughout the company. The first option is to gather the information by extracting it from your business matter experts (BMEs). Once you’ve found the people who have the “institutional” knowledge in their head, it is important to learn from them. Instead of interviewing them, observe their actions and watch their daily tasks. Quite often your BMEs perform these tasks on autopilot and the knowledge is second nature to them, but you can gain insight by asking them questions like:

  • “Why did you do that?”
  • “When did you start doing that?”
  • “Who taught you how to do that?”
  • “What’s the story behind this?”

These questions are going to help them give you the answers you need to truly understand what you see.

If you are creating the information, be sure to gather together a group of people that are doing the job well and can provide different perspective. Help them to identify all the issues that are top of mind for them every day. These “duties” don’t have a beginning or an end, they are just handled daily. Once these duties are found, dig to understand the individual “tasks” that are required to fulfill them. Each task is usually a series of steps, a process or a procedure that can be followed and subsequently taught.

For example, let’s take our Customer Service Representatives (CSRs). One of their daily duties is to “Provide Excellent Customer Service.” However, you don’t want to build a Customer Service Course. Instead, identify all the tasks your CSR does that results in “Excellent Customer Service.” These tasks include; “Answer the Phone Properly,” “Identify Type of Customer” and “Identify Customer Need” – each of these tasks involves a series of steps, questions or procedures that, when combined, result in “Excellent Customer Service.”

2. Understand Your Learner

At this point, you know what you’re trying to accomplish and have uncovered the information needed to train your people toward that result. However, different people in your organization are going to be comfortable learning in a variety of ways. It’s important to understand your learner, so ask yourself:

  • Who these people are as individuals?
  • What is their environment like?
  • What are they trying to accomplish?
  • Is there a trend in demographics?
  • Male/Female/Generation/Culture?
  • What technology will best suit your audience?
  • What voice?
  • What style?
  • Is their work environment conducive to the training event you are proposing?
  • Does it give them the information when and how they need it?

Don’t let teaching techniques create a gap of knowledge in your company. Get rid of any disconnects by taking the time to think about who your learner is and how they might learn best. The answers to these questions will help drive the design of your content and determine how you go about delivering it to your audience.

Effective employee training can’t exist if there are disconnects. By minding the gaps, you’ll be able to find the teaching strategies and solutions that will truly resonate with your team. This will make transferring knowledge throughout your company seamless and make your employees, and company, more successful.Training Assessment