By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. My organization has tripled the number of employees I supervise, and I'm exhausted with how many stupid mistakes they make. I make every effort to train them and yet they still manage to misunderstand nearly everything I say. How can I make the job to clear to them and not waste so much time with their mistakes?
A. You can save time by making sure your verbal and written training is exhaustively specific and clear. Consider the manufacturer's safety warnings that state something like, "Warning: do not jump off a cliff with this product." The manufacturers assume if they don't consider every possible mistake, people could make they will get sued.
You probably won't get sued by a new employee but you will waste a lot of time and annoyance. Therefore, you want to state every single thing you can think of that a new employee could do wrong and prevent it. Make a list of common mistakes that drive you crazy. Now make a thorough list of how employees can start out avoiding these behaviors.
If you assume anything an employee can do wrong - and will do wrong - you'll be better at supervising new people. Make sure you use every sensory modality. Some people learn by seeing, some by hearing, and some by doing. Make sure each employee has seen, heard and done what you want when training.
Research indicates that most of us take at least three times to learn any new skill. If you don't want to show new employees a skill repeatedly, then assign other employees to mentor your new staff. The older employees get to refine their skills, you save time, and the new employee gets the repetition.
Most of my clients tell me they never had any training on the practical daily realities of supervising human beings. People who make it into management are often quick to learn, highly responsible and ambitious. They assume everyone they hire is just like them. Expecting all new employees to be just like you is a recipe for misery.
Consider that your expectations about others at work may be the biggest source of your unhappiness with your job. If you expect (like the manufacturer's safety warnings) that people will amaze you with the mistakes they are capable of making, you'll be more prepared and less upset.
Once you have rewritten and revised your training approach, run it by a few eighth graders you know. If it is simple enough to make perfect sense to your average eighth grader, keep it. If not, back to the drawing board to clarify and simplify.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027.Sorry, no personal replies.
This column was printed in the January 11, 2015 - January 24, 2015 edition.