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Posts Tagged ‘training’

I’m working on a video script. Take a look.

Let’s take a minute to look at the difference between a competency model and a proficiency definition.
A competency model is the traditional way to identify what needs to be included in a typical training program.
A competency model breaks things down into three parts…Skills.. Knowledge.. and Attitudes. For example, an employee demonstrates good listening skills or an employee knows the features and benefits of our products are examples of competencies.
When you build a competency model you end up with a long list of items to include in training. The downside of this approach is that it often misses how competencies work together in different combination to produce a desired result.
For example, knowing the features and benefits of our products is part of how a salesperson makes a presentation, answers questions and even fills out an order.
A proficiency model, on the other hand, looks at the world from a completely different point of view. Proficiency is both a measure of performance and a set of observable behaviors that describe what a proficient employee produces and how the employee must work to achieve those results. Think of proficiency as a picture or snap shot of what success looks like on the job.
So with these two definitions in mind, here is the important difference. With a competency model, you can master all the competencies and not produce the desired results on the job. In other words, all the pieces don’t add up to the whole.
With a proficiency definition, the end result is completely spelled out and training doesn’t end until the employee becomes proficient. The result is important rather than all the pieces and parts.

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Here is a very rough draft of the first part of the introduction.

In 2002, I worked with Jim Williams to compile almost 10 years of experience into the first Learning Paths book. Since that time, I’ve worked on dozens of new Learning Path initiatives across a wide range of industries and job functions. What I’m always surprised about when I finish a new Learning is how much I’ve learned and all of the new, innovative ideas that have surfaced.
So now in the spring of 2011, I’m sitting down to compile what I’ve learned into this book which is really a sequel or next chapter in the Learning Path saga. In the introduction, I’m going to quickly recap the Learning Path Methodology for those who have not read or remember the first book. For those of you, who have Learning Path experience; feel free to skip to the first chapter.
In this book, I’m going to present a number of themes that I’ve uncovered about speed up the learning process as well as applying business and quality tools to learning, training and education. In each chapter, I will be using stories and examples from different industries and job functions to illustrate each of these themes. I will be drawing on experience in manufacturing, health care, sales, technical support and customer service. I will even so how these concepts apply to more elusive targets such as supervision, leadership and public education.

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A lot of the education models originated in a school setting. As a result, their application to a business setting is difficult at best. Education models assume classrooms with a teacher and focus a lot on the individual. In a business setting, there are often no classrooms and often no teachers. The focus is on training large numbers quickly and getting results just as fast. That’s why new models are needed that don’t come from the school education community.

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Making Sense?

Being able to clearly present an idea is difficult.  Here is an interesting video that can be used to set up an interesting discussion on how to be clear, crystal clear.

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I’ve been going back to find out where the statistics came from about the percentage breakdown between formal and informal learning.  It seems the origins go back to a 1995 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  But as I looked at that study and some of the more recent ones, I discovered that there really isn’t a uniform agreed upon definition of informal learning.  The line between formal and informal learning is blurred even more as new forms of delivery are developed.

I think it might be more useful to exchange the terms formal and informal for structured and unstructured.  You also might considered learning by design and learning by trial and error.  Take something like on-the-job training.  It can be done in a highly structured way or as informally as go work with Joe for the day.  When you go work with Joe for the day, it’s often highly unstructured and different every time.  It become informal learning.

Interestingly, when you start to add structure to informal learning such as identifying and guiding practice and experience, it’s really more like formal learning.  We think this is one of the fastest ways to accelerate learning.  We like to put all practice and experience on a learning path and then write directions on how it should happen.  This helps eliminate the waste of trail and error learning, and takes time out of the process by eliminating a number of wrong turns.

So what’s the point?  I say dump the terms formal and informal because they are too vague to be helpful and substitute structured and unstructured.  Then try to eliminate all the unstructured learning.

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If you do one or two role plays in a class, is that enough practice to master a skill?  Probably not.  That’s often why students do well in the classroom but can’t transfer the same level of performance to the job.  But I haven’t seen any companies that try to quantify the amount of practice.  They might set aside a certain amount of time, but not the number of repetitions.

I recently read Vince Flynn’s new book the American Assassin where the main character becomes highly proficient with a pistol after 20,000 rounds.  That’s a very specific amount of practice and might be a good guideline for other that follow.  I know that if you’d like to break 70 on a golf course hitting 25,000 golf balls is about right.

By the way, here’s what it means to hit 25,000 golf balls.  The average bucket has 85 balls.  So it’s around 300 buckets which is roughly 300 hours.  But not over your lifetime but in a relatively short period of time like a single summer.

I’ve heard to master a presentation that professional speakers charge money for, takes about 200 times to work out all the bugs and get the timing right.

So how many cold calls does it take to learn how to cold call?  How many customer complaints does it take to master customer service?  How many orders do you need to enter to reach a high speed without error?

Once you know this number, you can then build it into your training and coaching plan.  You can always shorten the number of repetition with good instruction, coaching and feedback.

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Undercover Boss is a show about CEOs that go undercover to learn about their organizations. Here’s a link to see episodes . On every episode I’ve seen, new employees are turned over to an experienced worker to learn the ropes. This is true for factory workers, call center agents, salespeople and customer service to name a few.

This approach has some giant flaws that lead to many of the problems these companies have. Here are just some of the flaws:

1. High Variability

The training is different depending on who the new employee is paired with.  These companies have multiple locations so it’s different everywhere.  These experienced workers have also developed their own way of doing things to overcome problems or things they haven’t learned to do right.  They are passing along the good with the bad.

2. Too Much Sink or Swim

These new employees are often thrown into the job often interacting with customers on the first day.  When they make mistakes, which all new employees do, they are in front of customers.  Those who don’t pick up things quickly are turned over quickly.  It would be much faster if new employees were trained to do the tasks from simple to hard, easy to complex to build on success.  The overall problem with sink or swim is that too many people sink, an that’s expensive.

3. Lack of Training Skills

The people doing the training are doing a lot of telling and a little showing which is what most people do when they haven’t been trained in how to do on the job training.  They often do things they way they were taught which can often be the slowest and least effective way.  They also don’t have the tools and structure to do this training right because the company doesn’t have any.

What you see is that the bigger these companies get, the more the problem gets magnified.  They edit it to show the best of the best so most likely across the board it’s worse then you see.  The boss often puts these people on a council or work team to share their ideas.  It’s like a revelation that this might be a good idea.  It something that should have been built into their company decades ago.

Anyway, have some fun watching these shows.  Try not to cringe so much when you see how training is done.

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