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5 Common Training Mistakes and Easy Solutions

Chances are you've made a mistake while training an employee.

Not simply a stutter, or getting the new hire's name wrong, but a bad habit or practice used in training.

Good training vs bad training is a battle we all fight when we train employees. Keep reading to see if you or your company have been guilty of these common training mistakes!

1) Assuming Subject Matter Experts Translate to Training

Subject matter experts are exactly that: a person whose knowledge in their field is nearly without equal. They know their craft inside and out.

But is their speciality in training? Have they themselves taken courses on training? Are they able to fully communicate their knowledge to someone who is new in the field?

Relying on a SME to fully communicate their expertise to a trainee is a common mistake. Frequently, the SME is so advanced in their knowledge that they speak too quickly or use terms that are new to the trainee.

If you rely on an SME for training, it's time to invest in them. Sign them up for seminars or classes that focus on training.

Once your SME is knowledgable in how to train, they become an invaluable tool to your business.

Do you have multiple SMEs who train? Sit with a consultant to create training material with your SMEs. Material that your SMEs can reference and follow to ensure they are covering specific topics, engaging your trainee, and much more.

2) Not Assessing the New Hire

You've trained the new employee! Great!

They say they retained everything you said! Wonderful!

They say they have no questions! Wow, you must be the best trainer in the world!

So you decide not to assess what you've trained them in... and then the new hire begins making mistakes or asking questions.

Trainees do not like to voice their concern that they did not fully understand something. They want to show that they are apt and capable and do not want their trainer thinking they made a mistake hiring them. This is natural. They are protecting themselves.

An assessment, however, allows the trainer to see where problem areas are before they arise. It's the equivalent to a short quiz or test. During the assessment, the trainer can notice where the trainee hesitates or is uncertain, and this facilitates the natural moment to ask questions and fill in gaps in the trainee's knowledge.

Assessments come in many forms but let's discuss two.

First, and most simple, is a quiz. A short, on-paper quiz is the quickest and easiest way to assess a trainee's retention of the material.

Simply create a quiz that asks the most important questions you would want them to know and give them a few minutes to answer it.

Afterwards, you will know exactly what they know and what they don't (assuming they didn't get lucky with guesses)!

Another common form of assessment is a demonstration or a practical test.

Instruct the employee to demonstrate the process you would like them to accomplish, while monitoring them.

In this scenario, you get to see first-hand how well they understand what was taught to them. Unlike a paper quiz or test, you will see where they hesitate or stumble and can help them talk through or work through the issue.

This assessment also allows a better situation to ask questions, which trainees tend to feel nervous about doing!

3) Not Following-Up After Training

Training should not be done once, at the beginning of employment, and never visited again.

Training should be revisited periodically to ensure proper techniques are maintained. It's a common belief that once an employee learns the technique, they will maintain it through their employment. Wrong.

As time goes on, employees may find "short-cuts" or new ways of doing a process that may not be safe or correct. They're taught these from longer-employees peers or learn it themselves.

Revisiting training, however brief, strengthens the training they originally received and ensures continued, correct operations.

You want to revisit training with employees who were the least recent to receive said initial training. If an employee hasn't received training in over a year, it's about time to pull them aside and review with them proper techniques that they may have forgotten. Keep these refreshment courses on rotation!

4) Not Gathering Employee Feedback

You may ask, what does the trainee know about training?

They may not know about training but they know how they feel after they started the job and how well-trained they feel.

Not asking how they felt about the training some months into their employment is disregarding critical feedback to improve your training.

After the employee has been working for a short amount of time after their training, they are a prime candidate to ask how you could improve your training.

Perhaps too much time is spent on one aspect of the job and not another or perhaps a common, but overlooked, aspect of the job was not covered.

Regardless, who better to tell you what's missing from your training than the person you just trained?

The best way to gather the feedback is by being direct and non-confrontational. Let your employee be honest. Yes, if they tell you that the training program you put them through wasn't very helpful, it may sting. But that is how we improve our training and mold better employees.

A simple form where they can rank various aspects of the training is quick and easy to create. Add a section for an open-ended note, in case there was something they wanted to add.

5) Boring, Un-Engaging Training

Let's face it: training isn't the most exciting thing that we could be doing with our time.

However, disengaged trainees absorb less information.

If your training entirely revolves around long, wordy PDFs or PowerPoints, be assured that your trainee is disinterested.

How do we create more engaging, interesting training? Simple.

Ask questions during the training to get the trainee involved.

Have them demonstrate, if possible, what you just discussed.

Encourage questions and thank them for their curiosity. Never show annoyance at their confusion.

Allow semi-frequent breaks for the restroom or water because an uncomfortable trainee is a disinterested one.

If you have to use PowerPoints or PDFs, avoid large, un-broken paragraphs of text. Split it up! Leave spaces between sentences!


It's very easy to make training mistakes but fixing them is not necessarily difficult!

Spotting the errors, however, is more difficult to do if you designed the training program. Take a break, step back, and look at your training material through the eyes of your trainee. Training is an ever-changing issue, so keep trying and don't be afraid of change!

I hope these tips help you in training!

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