If you’re in a leadership position, you’ve probably had the following happen to you:
You’re teaching someone how to do something, and they keep nodding and saying they understand what you want them to do.
Then you let them do it on their own, and what they produce isn’t remotely close to what you were expecting.
Why does this happen?
For one thing, we most often train by showing someone how we do it, instead of actively engaging them in the learning.
Also, we rarely check in at key points to have them demonstrate that they understand, instead of just saying they understand.
Finally, because most people we’re training to do something are highly eager to show us they understand, there is a strong incentive to say they do, even when they don’t.
Passively listening to you explain how to do something doesn’t easily transfer to doing it.
Compounding the problem is the human tendency at work to not want to appear stupid, so people who don’t understand something they were just trained in often won’t speak up and say they don’t get it.
How to solve that problem?
I like using a variation of the technique used in medical training known as “see one, do one, teach one.”
In training someone how to do something, I usually follow this formula:
First, I show them how I do it.
Then, we do one iteration of whatever it is together, each doing part of the task.
After that, I correct whatever wasn’t done correctly.
Finally, I ask them to train me in how to do it, as if they are the expert and I know nothing.
It’s amazing how diagnostic it is when I ask them to train me … it really challenges them to actively think through the process, and then put things in the right sequence to teach it back to me.
Beyond that, it’s a measure of how well I taught them, and it often exposes things I left out.
It also lets them put their own spin on the process, and often we wind up making improvements that I hadn’t thought about.
The next time you have something you need to teach someone on the job, try “see one, do one, teach one.”