Successful training begins with a clear agenda based on established learning objectives. Like a road map, the agenda takes you from point A to point B, with a clear direction, points of interest, scenic views, activities, opportunity for discovery and arrival at the desired destination. Technology has created a workforce used to instant access and personal choice, requiring an agenda that is fast-paced, interactive and with clear personal and professional value.
Learning to operate equipment calls for a sequential agenda covering the steps to customize the phone to the individual and using the various features. Begin with an introduction of the trainer and determine the experience level of the participants. Using the manufacturer's manual as a guide, go over all of the physical features of the phone system and the functionality of the buttons, lights, connections and digital readouts. Demonstrate the steps to complete each function -- answering calls, transferring calls and placing calls on hold. Have participants demonstrate their skill in completing the steps using the equipment. To further test learning, use another phone to place calls to the participants. Coach them through any difficulties with the operations; many companies have a script for answering the phone and voice mail messages. Ensure the participant sets up his voice mail properly and understands how to leave and retrieve messages.
Soft skills training, such as communications, is more subjective than mechanical and requires understanding of the theory and psychology behind how people communicate effectively. Communication takes place verbally, visually and vocally, so include a section with examples of each method to demonstrate how each affects effective message delivery and what the recipient understands. Because adults learn by seeing, hearing and doing, role playing and group exercises can help participants relate the concepts to daily communications. Taking time to debrief the exercises and allowing for questions will further enhance understanding. Include a section on different communication methods -- voice mail, email, text messages, tweets, social networking sites, intranets, posts -- and the advantages and drawbacks of each. Noting company preferences for communication methods and restrictions on using company communications tools round out the agenda.
On-the-Job Process Training
The quickest way to learn may be to just do it. On-the-job process training pairs a new employee with a skilled, high-performing employee. For a few days, the new employee shadows the skilled employee, who demonstrates the proper techniques and sequencing in performing tasks, helps identify where there is opportunity for error, and demonstrates how to troubleshoot and make corrections. After achieving a reasonable comfort level, the new employee begins to complete tasks under the watchful eye of her mentor, receiving coaching and correction when necessary. This method gives instant feedback on the transfer of knowledge and the skill level of the trainee. Once tasks are completed without error, the trainee is ready to go on her own.
- Fink's Five Principles of Good Course Design; Lee D. Fink
- 20 Active Training Programs, Volume I; Mel Silberman
Mary Nestor-Harper has more than 12 years as a human-resources director and more than 19 years experience as an HR/management consultant. She has been published in "Training Magazine," "The Savannah Morning News" and on the Web. A television and radio business, career and motivation expert, she shares career and job search tips as Ageless Media Network's career expert on WTKS-AM 1290, Savannah, Ga.