On the ABA Owls podcast episode for July, we revisit our Training Staff Series and go through some ABA guidance on training new staff members. In case you’d like to listen, you can go to our podcast page or use your preferred podcast app and search “Chirping with ABA Owls” – we’re on iTunes, Podbean and other platforms.
If you prefer to read rather than listen, carry on with this post.
Where do you start?
When a new employee joins, they will need more attention – which means that your focus will have to shift from other tasks (e.g., supporting other staff members). We understand every job is different, but we can use the same measures across different settings.
Planning your time can make a massive difference in your day, but the biggest difficulty people seem to have has been to keep it simple. Truth be told, we are guilty of striving for doing as much as possible in one day – we advise you to think of the quote “Less is More”. The first written recording of this quote is from an 1855 poem, but it’s still the best approach you can have.
This doesn’t mean we are advising you to do less things, but to make your tasks achievable. It is quite punishing or disheartening to have a to-do list for a day and not be able to complete it. And you are less likely to even want to write a list and attempt to complete it if you have been unsuccessful previously.
What do we mean by “Planning”? Planning can be having a checklist of the behaviours the new employee needs to learn. Planning can be discussing a backup plan with your superior in case you are not available to train. Planning can be setting aside time for that new employee and stick to it as much as possible.
Checklists are actually much more powerful than what people believe. They can be a great source of support in helping you remember all the steps you have to follow or what you need to do to achieve a task. They can also track where you are and where you are going.
We discuss more practical examples on the podcast episode.
This brings us to training. You’ve done all this planning and now you have to train someone.
Keep these four questions in mind:
1) WHAT do they need training on?
2) WHAT is the priority?
3) HOW should we train?
4) HOW do we consider the skill learned?
1) WHAT do they need training on? This is something that the aforementioned checklist would help with. Every job has different work behaviours.
2) WHAT is the priority? It’s important to prioritise, this can also be done at the planning level. However, exercise FLEXIBILITY and realistic aims. New needs might come up, there might be an unexpected new project, or there might be a new pupil joining the class or you might get a new client, etc etc. So, the level of importance of each work behaviour might shift based on day-to-day events.
3) How should we train? In our Training staff introduction episode (season 2 episode 5), we mentioned an article that discussed different training methods.
In our field, there is something called BST (stands for Behavioural Skills Training) – this training procedure uses both verbal training and role playing. Verbal (or Vocal) instruction is given to the trainee, which can be in the form of a lecture, videos for around 15/20 minutes, followed by role playing where the work behaviour is demonstrated to the trainee.
During role play, it is also important for the staff to try and execute the work behaviour – there are various studies that have shown the efficiency of role play. But if you don’t believe us, just think about yourself when you start a new job. When did you learn a skill properly? When someone said “you do this and that” or when you actually had to do it? Understanding what works for each person could also help in training someone more effectively.
4) How do we consider the skill mastered? Or when is someone competent at performing the target skill? The time spent in role playing is when you can assess if the skill is learned or if it needs more practice. To be clear, when we say role play, we don’t mean that you spend HOURS doing it but rather how skilled is the staff member at completing this skill correctly and with satisfaction.
Fading in demands and Maintaining skill repertoire.
Fade in demands – If an employee is displaying the work behaviours necessary to master that part of training, progress with training, slowly adding more responsibilities.
This will help the new employee with being more successful in mastering each step. They will also start feeling more confident as you systematically and slowly add more steps, so that each skill is well developed and fluently demonstrated.
Maintenance – This is an important part of any work-based skill or any skill. If you don’t practice the target behaviours you will either lose the skill or forget how to do it. If you practise it or maintain it by performing it regularly, you are less likely to forget it.
Once in a while you can (and potentially should) check if the work skill is being performed correctly, but be mindful not to come across as condescending or overbearing. People can react negatively when they feel their superiors don’t trust them.
An approach we can recommend is to explain to the staff member that it is part of the company’s policy to do these checks, and that everyone goes through them, even managers. This is to ensure people are keeping their work skills.
Training is a topic that is quite exciting for us, as we enjoy seeing people understand and apply skills to their work and personal life.
We find that using ABA can make people’s lives easier – the measures you put in place now will support you in the future.
Think about where you are now and where you want to be – ABA will help you prepare the steps between those two stages (the now and the future).
We hope you’ve enjoyed this post (and the podcast episode, if you’ve listened to it).
We are having a break and will be back in September!
You can also follow us on Instagram (@ABA_owls), send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment below.
Thank you for reading,
Carla and Lauren