When several of my co-workers attended training, the first thing I asked was “what did you learn?” The next thing I asked was, “do you have any questions” and “is there any clarifications that I can help with?” I was prepared to answer their questions having gone through the training myself and having performed the task for the last three years. You can imagine my surprise when I was asked a question regarding a process I had not done, let alone even knew existed! Stumped, and a little miffed by the fact that maybe I had been doing it all wrong these past several years, I decided to sit in on the training myself just to see what went wrong.
I was a little nervous about attending the class at first. After all, most everyone would be newer staff learning the content for the first time. Would I be judged for not knowing? Would the trainers expect me to have all the answers? As a trainer myself, I knew the answer to these questions were “no” but I still felt self-conscious. Taking the class a second time I realized that it wasn’t that my previous knowledge was bad but that the information had evolved - the way all information does over time. Processes change and, when trying to distribute mass information to a large organization, there is bound to be gaps somewhere. If I had not asked staff what they learned I would have never discovered key pieces of information that I was missing.
DON’T BE AFRAID
It’s better to admit that you don’t know rather than fake your way through it and possibly confuse someone else in the process. Even as a manager or supervisor it is important to already have the knowledge that you are sending staff to learn. So, before training occurs, ask yourself if this is a topic for which even you could use a refresher. Remember that information evolves. Even if the tasks that you have been doing for the last five years have not changed, they may be taught differently, and even knowing the teaching method can help you support your staff. There may be a breakdown in communication if you are unaware of the change in information, causing a possible rift in the workplace.
For me, when I heard about this particular training I thought I was already familiar with the process. As a result, I declined to take the training as a refresher. But I quickly changed my mind about taking the class when I received questions I didn’t know the answer to. And boy was I glad I did!
If it’s been a while since you’ve received a training, as a supervisor you should feel empowered to ask questions about the training being given. After all, you are the one that must make sure staff are putting their training to good use. If time does not permit you take a full training session over again - where most of the core information will be the same - ask the trainers if there has been any new information or what pertinent information you should know to help your staff later on. The manager’s role when it comes to staff training is critical. Not only are you role models of the new process and/or information, but you must also be an instrument in their learning as well.
As much as trainers like to provide an easy going environment where staff may feel comfortable to ask questions, there are many times where questions do not surface until after training is over. This is where managers must be on their A-game. Asking questions and taking a general interest in what your staff have learned will given them a chance to reflect on the training they have just come from, stimulating recall and organizing the information. This is an additional opportunity for staff to ask questions they may have been too embarrassed to ask or that may not have occurred to them.
Refreshers are good, but sometimes we don’t even know we need them. I encourage everyone, supervisors and staff alike, to evaluate refresher training and, when in doubt, just take it - you’ll be glad you did.