Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Complete training before you join the war

Tonight I was reviewing documents that I created and saved in Google Docs, Google's online equivalent of Microsoft Office.  I found this short story and decided to use it as this week's blog post.  The first part of this was written in 2010.

My twelve-year old daughter, Erika,  likes to play with a group of other neighborhood girls.  Yesterday, after returning home after several hours of play, she explained to me that the girls were playing “nerf war.”  Erika looked more like a football player than a warrior with football-like stripes on her cheeks.

In order to prepare for the “war,” the girls devised an obstacle course, utilizing existing playground equipment and fences, as obstacles to go over, under, or around.  The goal was to successfully complete the obstacle in sixty seconds or less.  As of last night’s report, only one girl had completed the course within the target time. 

This morning we continued discussing the obstacle course.  The girls are apparently focused on meeting their time goal on the obstacle course prior to resuming the nerf war.  Erika commented, “You have to complete training before you join the war.”  This reminded me of one of my early work experiences that taught me the importance of proper instruction or training prior to joining “the war.”

After graduating from high school, I secured a summer job at Domino’s Pizza delivering pizzas.  I had no experience in the pizza or delivery business.  Once I was outfitted with my blue and red Domino’s shirt, I was introduced to my trainer.  The plan, I was informed, would be to ride with my trainer for the entire shift, and then begin delivering independently the next night.

I accompanied my trainer for about an hour.  As we walked back into the store after completing a delivery, the manager said, “Doug, do you feel comfortable going out by yourself?  One of our drivers called in sick and I need a driver.”

Being the confident 18-year old that I was, I said, “Sure!  I’d be happy to.”

I strapped the triangular Domino’s sign on my car, a 1972 Pontiac Ventura II, and readied for my night of deliveries.  Driving around with the sign prominently displayed atop my car translated into a significant increase in my wage, an extra $1.50 per hour!  I wondered at the time why some drivers opted out of utilizing the sign, but I needed all the extra income I could easily earn. 

I spent the rest of the evening trying to find streets and addresses in a town that I thought I knew a town I had lived in for six years!  It was amazing to me how many streets were drawn on the large map displayed at the drivers’ entrance to the store.  I was even more surprised at how many new subdivisions and streets existed that were not on the map!  When the additional confusion of darkness was added to the mix, it really complicated my first shift!

I have seen the same scenario played out in business as well.  In a rush to complete tasks or improve efficiency, adequate time is not allowed for training.  Especially with software, there can be an expectation that users will learn from others or use the help function.

If you are in a leadership position, take the time to ensure that your staff is trained on whatever new processes, procedures, or tools (including software) you are implementing.  If you are not in a leadership position, take the assertive action of requesting training.