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Training Wings

July 6, 2022 By The Siren Of Support Leave a comment

The path to independence is not a straight line, nor is it a synonymous journey for all. Some will ascend with ease. Others will fall from the nest and learn to flap their wings before they hit the deck. And then there are those that never learn to fly. They stay in the nest, dependent on others, eventually being left behind to sink or swim. Or rather in this case, fly or die. 

Over the past few months, my cats and I have been entertained by watching mother robin build a nest and lay her eggs. Finally, three tiny little beaks could be seen peeking out over the top. We witnessed the gathering of nourishment as this new mother constantly ventured back and forth. The new birds were thriving and growing by the day. Ironically, yesterday was the day that the offspring were ousted from the nest. Maybe, the mother bird was sick of doing all of the work, or maybe she knew it was independence day. 

Mother bird spent the majority of the day training her babies how to do bird things. I watched as they followed her around getting used to walking and eventually fluttering their wings. I took my eyes off of them for only a few moments and they were gone. They had officially flown the coop. 

As trainers and leaders the main goal is to get our new hires skilled up and contributing to the team as swiftly and thoroughly as possible. Surely it will take longer than a few hours for them to find their wings, but what can we do to ensure that the process is effective, timely, and provides all integral content? How can we guarantee that the material provided is being absorbed by the learners? When do we stop holding their hands and let them put their new skills to use? What happens if they just don’t “get it”? 

  • Evaluate: Tossing together a bunch of material and hoping your new person follows through is wishful thinking. The information provided may be stellar but without a strategy in place you are guaranteed to have some gaps that you are unaware of. More than simply checking off the skill boxes, make sure that the delivery method is effective and that the order the material is distributed makes sense for the learning path. Even the quickest learner has to walk before they fly.

  • Test The Trainee: Have the trainee show you that they are understanding and retaining the information you are providing. Allow them to demonstrate the skills gained in real world situations.  Check in often and regularly. It is easier to correct any skill gaps if they are identified during the training process. It is not fair or functional to push the new hire from the nest without first knowing that both wings flap.

  • Help Don’t Hinder: For learners and trainers alike it is easy to get stuck in a routine that allows for work to be done but doesn’t allow the new person to showcase all of their potential. When we hold on too long we risk employee boredom, lack of interest, and stagnancy. As for the company, we are not getting the most bang for our buck if we don’t push our people to get better everyday. Be there to catch them if they fall, while cheering them on to rise.

  • Cut Ties: Your training program may be all encompassing and have a proven track record of success, but chances are you will have at least one hire that doesn’t make it through. The longer you hold on and hope they will eventually grasp the concepts only wastes time and money. If they are a better fit for an internal position, move them. If not, cut them loose for your benefit and theirs. Even mama bird will eat her young to protect the rest of the nest. 

As we build and grow our teams, the strategy for training is ever changing and improving. Our road to better, smarter teams is not a straight line but rather a two lane highway that allows for skilling up, analyzing skill gaps and revisiting materials when needed. As we push our new hires out of the nest and into the real world we send them off with the tools to succeed and confidence in their ability to soar. 

Fly birdy fly.

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