The first job I had out of college was working at my dad's medical practice. It was a temporary gig because I had a full-time offer from a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. But since I graduated in December, and the consulting job didn't start until August, I had some time to kill.
So I worked for my dad in Pasadena, CA. I remember the first day at work - I sat down at a computer, received some login credentials for NueMD, and was basically told to just kind of figure things out.
I clicked around for a while, eventually found some of NueMD's documentation, made a ton of phone calls, asked a lot of questions, and eventually taught myself how to use the system. That experience frustrated me a little.
I also observed other new-hires come through and get trained. They basically sat around for 5 days watching others work (the fancy name is "shadowing"). After 5 days, they were expected to know what to do and how to do it. That was usually frustrating for the new-hire and the experienced employees.
My dad wasn't involved in the training because he was in the back doing the doctor thing. I was mostly with front office staff - a great group of people, but they didn't have anything set up for training.
After 9 months, I left for my consulting job. I was interested to see how their training was done and compare a small office to a world-wide consulting firm. The first day of training was at a Marriott hotel and we had people from Franklin Covey, consulting coaches, and Market Directors come and speak to us. I was really impressed.
But when I arrived at my first client site and sat down to do my job, I had no idea how to actually do the work. There wasn't really any documentation to help, so I ended up asking a lot of questions, learning along the way, and demanding a lot from my managers.
The experience was actually pretty similar to my first job at a small office.
Each project site thereafter, I experienced the same thing. It was really frustrating for both me and those who had to exercise patience teaching me what I needed to know. All of the training was really hands on because there wasn't really a specific process - there were guidelines that were known only through experience. And there wasn't really a robust training program because the budget didn't allow for one.
When we had other new-hires join our team, they went through the same experience. Some performed well, and others did not. Many commented on a lack of training, and how they were frustrated they didn't quite know how to do their job. Although training was a big part of the consulting firm in other departments, ours was amazingly terrible.
Everybody just had to figure it out as they went, and learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. High turnover meant this process happened over and over, and managers ended up teaching the same thing to several different employees.
What was most frustrating for me was that I felt I couldn't do the jobs I was asked to do. I would get upset at work and often bring that home to my family. Those above me would also get upset, and sometimes it led to a stressful work environment.
When people don't know what's going on, but they're still expected to perform, that creates stress and anxiety. When everybody knows their job, and performs it well, people are just happier.
When a team sees results from proper execution, and sees their accomplishments, they are emotionally healthier.
If your training can help others grow, and become more proficient and more sophisticated, they will be happier with their work and you will be happier with their performance. Being empowered to act without constant direction is a marvelous feeling.
Improving training is about more than just improving efficiency (although that is a nice thing, too). It's about improving the work experience of everybody involved, and helping others grow into something better than what they were when they first walked through the doors.
Great training won't prevent turnover and it won't remove all of the stress folks feel. But it will improve your day-to-day because it will improve the day-to-day of everybody in your organization. That's the beauty of your job as a trainer and as a teacher - you can make everybody's lives better.
So put some effort into a training program and make an impact.