Teach your crew how to teach others.
It is 6:00 AM Monday morning, and you arrive at the shop before the sun has peaked over the horizon. You are coming in to pick up your job assignments, load your truck and get on the road. Your service manager greets you with your weekly work orders and informs you that you are being assigned a new hire for the week. He wants you to “show him the ropes” and help onboard him to the company.
For many, this scenario brings about a combined set of emotions including a degree of irritation along with a sense of worry. Questions run through your mind including “Who is this guy?” and “What am I going to teach him?” You’d prefer if your service manager would have at least given notice on Friday that you’d be training a new hire this week. At least you could have had the opportunity call out sick today!
Training someone, especially someone that you do not know, can be an intimidating process. It is difficult to overcome the pressures associated with training someone, especially when you are not familiar with their level of skill and knowledge. It is essential to overcome self-doubt when beginning the training process. Everyone has knowledge and abilities they can share with those around them.
There are many different formats that help instructors deliver training inside companies. The selection of a training system is a choice that is unique to individual companies. Certain aspects of the company including the culture must be considered when choosing a training format. The Buddy System is an example of a training system. It works well in a team-based environment, as it honors each individual and their contributions to the team.
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The Buddy Training System
The Buddy Training System is a mentor and mentee training system developed as a method for training new members in the construction industry. It is a six-step system that is designed to take a new team member from entry level to mastery level. The training system can be re-applied for each new skill the team member learns.
Level 1 in the Buddy Training System interviews the new employee for their level of skills and knowledge. Begin by getting to know the person. Learn their name. Ask them where they worked before they took the job at your company. The key at this level is not to assume anything about the person. Ask a lot of questions, but just as important, listen to their answers. Be as specific as you need to be in order to assess their level of skill for the task being discussed.
Level 2 in the Buddy Training System is to have the mentee watch over the shoulder of the mentor while the task is being completed. This is the opportunity for the mentor to showcase their skills and knowledge and have the mentee watch. As you complete the task, talk and share with the mentee about what you are thinking and seeing as you complete the task. Ask questions to confirm that the mentee is taking in the information necessary to move onto Level 3.
Level 3 in the Buddy Training System is to have the mentee complete the task while the mentor watches them to insure that they are doing it right. Encourage the mentee to talk through the task and to share what they are doing with you. This is your opportunity to critique what they are doing and help them correct their processes while they are doing it. Remember, learning occurs at output.
Level 4 is to assign them the task using the SMART goals format. Your assignment for them is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented and Time-Bound. You allow them to work towards accomplishing the goal or completing the task with the understanding that you are going to return to review their progress and critique their work. It is important to remember at this level that you allow the mentee to self-correct all mistakes. The learning opportunity occurs at this level when they correct their own mistakes.
Level 5 in the Buddy Training System builds off of Level 4 by assigning them the task or goal, but allowing them to self-critique and more importantly self-correct. Your reviews as mentor at this level are to confirm that the tasks and goals have been accomplished. If the mentee has in fact achieved a Level 5, the critique by the mentor will be closer to coaching than an actual critique. The mentee should be self-correcting their mistakes before you return to offer your critique. If they have not self-corrected their mistakes, then chances are they are still at Level 4.
Level 6, and the final level in the Buddy Training System, is when the mentee becomes the mentor and is able to coach and guide someone else through all 5 levels. This level of mastery is very difficult to achieve and may not happen for every individual. This level is reserved for those who can coach through all levels and build more individuals to a Level 6 mastery of the defined tasks and goals.
When mentors are challenged to train and teach others, the educational process helps to clarify the level of mastery that the mentor actually has over the subjects in which they are teaching others. Many do not know how well they understand a subject matter until they are required to teach someone else to do that same thing. By training others, mentors actually learn more about their knowledge and skills and as a result increase their own abilities.
The unique opportunity in this system is that the mentor does not need to be at Level 6 in the Buddy System in order to train and guide those around them. If the mentor is at a Level 4, they can guide the learning process for Levels 1 through 3. And, in fact, it is encouraged to have individuals at all levels mentor those at lower levels. By teaching and guiding others, the knowledge and skills that mentors possess becomes more refined. Remember, everyone can teach someone something!
If you’d like to know more about employing the Buddy Training System, check out this course that Construct-Ed offers.