Engineer training. Easy or challenging? Part 2

Last month we started to discuss about the engineer training topic giving some advice on how to prepare for it. This time we would like to take this topic further and talk about how to actually conduct the training for your newcomer. If you decided to perform the training by yourself, or use your internal company sources, this is what you should take into consideration.

1. The very first step that you have to do is to make a time table – when exactly the training on each subject will be held. All the subjects with the highest priority – “must have now” – goes first, then – “must haves” and finally the ones categorized as “nice to have”.

NOTE: if it is possible, try not to push everything in to an extremely short time – it takes time to absorb all the new information. After every category and different subject give a break even if it is just a couple of hours.

2. When you already have a plan of the training, the next step would be to choose the best method to perform the training. Most common methods of training that you can choose from are:

  1. Reading of the documents. Such methods requires a person who will be able to consult the trainee only on the difficult part of the training, give explanations, answer the questions and give some test questions after the training to evaluate if the newcomer understood all the information. However, be sure, that you have all the reading prepared in a really detailed way; otherwise it might become a double work using this method.
  2. Story – telling. Similar method to the previous, just all the information comes straight from the person conducting the training. Choose this one if you do not have documents suitable for training, however note that person performing the training also should prepare in advance.
  3. Watching. Perform a certain presentation or just a normal day routine with an accurate explanation why things are being done this way.
  4. Practice. Let trainee perform certain functions under the supervision of the trainer who is able to correct any mistake momentarily, followed with an explanation. It is very important to correct every mistake as soon as it is noticed. It is much harder to repair the acquired wrong working skills than to teach the new ones.

NOTE: do not forget about the balance of theory and practice. It is very helpful to hear how things must be/ are done, but grownups mostly learn by doing things, so give them as much practice under careful observation as possible.

NOTE: give an explanation about why things must be done in a certain way, especially if your newcomer is experienced and he used to do the same thing in different manner. Knowing why exactly one should lose his old habits gives much better results, than just blindly doing things.

3. After knowing how exactly the training will be performed, you have to figure out how it will be evaluated. How will you know that your newcomer is qualified enough to work alone? Actually very simple: for the theoretical knowledge you may use tests, for the skills – special testing tasks, for instance to fix a certain visual system disorder. And do not forget to give your newcomer feedback in order to inform him how he handled the training. Even a short feedback can give a significant push to try harder.

4. And when you think that your work is already done – you are wrong. The next step would be to share this amazing plan that you just generated with those who will be involved in the realization of it.

  1. Introduce your plan to the trainers and discuss with each of them what exactly you are expecting from them while covering certain subjects:
    1. why it is important;
    2. what trainer has to show and tell during the training;
    3. how trainer should perform the training (always give arguments on why you think this would be the most effective method).
  2. And don’t forget your newcomer. Give him/her the plan, explain what is waiting for him/her, why it is important, who is going to be the trainer (if you want to help your trainer to gain more authority which helps to teach an adult, it might be useful to emphasize the trainers expertise in certain subjects). By doing it in such a way you will reduce unnecessary anxiety that newcomer is experiencing during the first days, and show him that the company’s highest priority is to empower and help newcomer to succeed.

As engineers work with difficult, expensive, sometimes even dangerous equipment and even though your newcomers’ training results are really good, SimHelp would recommend to not let him work alone for at least 1-3 months, sometimes event longer. Pair him with qualified colleagues, who could watch and teach him. Yes, you may argue that after the training he knows everything, but no week ever goes by without something challenging happening in the engineering department, when even the experienced senior engineers are having difficulties. So if the senior engineers find it difficult, imagine how it seems for a person who is working in your company for only 4 weeks.

And for the final word on this topic, we would like to offer you a golden rule for teaching. Make sure that your training plan starts with the easiest tasks and easily gained new skills. Give a chance for your newcomer to experience a joy of victory. It doesn’t matter if he is a 20-something just graduated student or a middle aged experienced engineer, everyone craves for a sense of victory, success even in the smallest things. With every little achievement, motivation to know, learn and try more grows. As a result you will have self-confident, happy with the decision to join the company, and highly motivated to learn employee. Newcomers need success to maintain their interest in learning otherwise they may come to the conclusion that it’s not for them or they are not capable to do something and ect.

And now… Time to start your well planned new engineers training. GOOD LUCK!

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