What Qualities Should You Look For When Training New People?


As someone that has spent over 30 years in management and business ownership I have been responsible for training many new starters. About three years ago I had an epiphany that I would like to share with you.

I firmly believe that adaptability is an absolutely key skill in business & in life and I encourage and teach this in every course that I run. I also insisted on it from day one for every new hire!

My epiphany moment came when I was watching a documentary on the game of cricket and the training of fast bowlers in particular. The ‘Coach’ explained that when training a bowler the first thing he looked for was a consistent ‘stock ball’, the ability of the bowler to hit exactly the same mark on the pitch with every single delivery. He explained that with some bowlers this skill alone could take several months to perfect.

The problem with a bowler that can only deliver one ‘style’ of delivery is that the batsman would soon recognise this and exploit the weakness. A good fast bowler will therefore need to vary his deliveries so that the batsman is never sure what is coming next. But training would only progress to new styles of delivery once the Coach was happy that the bowler could hit the right mark 99 times out of 100. If you watch cricket or listen to commentary on the radio you will hear references to terms like ‘Out swinger’, ‘Full Toss’, ‘Reverse Swing’ & ‘Yorker’, all of which refer to an adapted type of delivery that the coach would then start to teach.

So what has this got to do with training new starters? Well I hope the penny has already dropped but if not here is the relevance:

  • When learning any new skill you must master the basics before trying anything too advanced.
  • New staff members get confused if you give them too many options on how to do exactly the same task. You are better to teach them just one ‘standard’ way first.
  • If the job involves dealing with people focus on getting standard communication (salutation, customer service & ending) right first before coaching on adaptability to individual customer needs.
  • If you teach ‘set rules’ but then say “apart from” or “this doesn’t apply to XYZ” then confusion will reign!
  • If the job has multiple ‘roles’ which many do, then introduce the roles one at a time and allow the new hire to become comfortable with the one role before adding the complexity of the next.

All sounds like common sense and it is but in my experience common sense is not always common practice! If you are not already doing the above then try it with your next new staff member. I guarantee that rather than slow your induction training down you’ll actually get them up to speed and be more effective quicker than before.

Many thanks

Mark Williams

Head of Training

MTD Training   | Image courtesy by JS Creationzs of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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Updated on: 27 August, 2013

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