Managers who want (and need) to support the professional development of their staff often find it’s harder than they hoped it would be. Inside many organizations, classroom training is considered the standard, and studies show it’s still the most prevalent form of training available.
However, whether you send employees out of the office for a day or two, or—if you’re lucky—bring the training to you, the time and expense required for traditional classroom training create massive disruption to the business.
What if there were a better, faster, less costly way of training staff members?
Good news: There is!
The old “watch, learn, then try on your own” method of training is often overlooked as a viable option for educating employees. This is especially surprising since informal training is far less expensive and (often) far more effective. After all, research shows that adults learn best in a hands-on, “active” learning environment, where they’re physically, as well as mentally, engaged.
Aside from effectiveness for the learner and cost savings for the company, informal (or “on the job”) training offers a host of other benefits for the manager. Here are just a few:
1. Minimal Disruption
Informal training keeps your employees right where they are. No out of office time. No travel. No stacks of work waiting for them upon return.
2. Personal Interaction
As a manager providing on-the-job training for your staff members, you get more time to interact with them directly. You can see how they learn and respond under pressure. The insight you’ll gain in the process is invaluable.
3. Customized & Flexible
Informal training doesn’t require a structured agenda. You have the ability to teach it your way — in the moment, hands-on — in the real world. As problems arise, you address them. When mistakes happen, an invaluable learning moment presents itself. Your staff gets practical, applicable knowledge rather than theoretical.
4. Grow as a Leader
Providing on-the-job training allows you, as a manager, to hone your leadership skills. You’ll be forced to adapt to the needs of others, communicate effectively, and prioritize learning needs. And, your team will gain greater respect for you as an “expert”.
Look for opportunities to train your team members in the real world. A few minutes here and there can add up.
While informal training is often considered most effective for hard (technical) skills education, soft (interpersonal) skill knowledge can be transferred in this way, as well. Set the example, discuss what you’re doing and why, and encourage a dialogue with your team.
From now on, consider informal training first. When you don’t have the skill or capacity to provide the required instruction, classroom training and e-learning are still both great options.