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Peer Training

January 12, 2015

I watched as my six year old granddaughter wiped the flour off the table.  With a dish towel in hand, she approached the spill from the back side and worked it towards the table’s edge.  She then took her other hand, placed it below the edge and swept the flour off the table into the waiting hand.

I was surprised at her efficiency and her accuracy.  I asked, “Hannah, how did you learn to do that so well?”  With a smile and an inquisitive look she answered, “Boppi, don’t you remember?  You taught me!” Talk about giving me the right answer!  It may have not been me, but the point is simply that she had been taught. 

It could be said the ability to learn how to do a job is contingent on the ability of someone to teach how to do the job.  Getting a seasoned employee to train a new employee is usually a good arrangement.

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season, I watched a new employee at a busy customer service counter. I listened as a peer trainer explained the proper way to answer the phone.  The trainer demonstrated by answering several calls.  After each call, he explained what the customer had asked for and how he had provided the answers.  He then invited the new employee to answer the next call.

Standing side-by-side, the new employee re-stated the customer’s inquiry so the trainer could hear.  The trainer was prepared to help, but the new employee had heard the same inquiry earlier and handled it correctly.  The trainer complimented him.  The learning relationship was off to a great start!

Even among office personnel, peer training is a preferred method for learning.  In a recent survey which I conducted concerning a variety of software staff development opportunities for administrative personnel, 100% of those surveyed supported the opportunity to learn from their peers.  The challenge here will be to pair staff with the software strength together with staff looking to learn.  Being able to accomplish this will create a long lasting relationship between the peers.

As the New Year begins, take time to assess the learning needs of your staff.  Ask them what they want to learn.  The best employee you can have is one that takes pride in being a life-long learner.

The advisors at the Small Business Development Center are available to assist, contact us.

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