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“What characterizes a good job coach”

Written by: Ole Magni is Business Improvement Partner at VELUX A/S and John Vellema, Partner and Senior Enabler at Business Through People ApS.

This article was first published by Ole Magni, on Linkedin in April 2021 - find it here.

Have you ever experienced comments like this, or maybe, “Now I’m showing it for the last time, you must have learned it by now!”. The examples are diverse in how we have reacted when a new or existing employee has been in training and has had difficulty learning.

What considerations do we actually use when a colleague needs to be trained for a new task or when a new employee needs to be trained for a new job? Who should train the employee? How should the employee be trained? Is there anything special we need to ensure when an employee is trained?

In many companies, the answer is straightforward. The experienced employee who is available at the given time. Most of all, we want to use the most experienced, the fastest, the one who is always quick to just explain how things should be done. Often without relating to how training takes place/has taken place because we know who has completed the training, the best competencies we have, so it cannot fail?

Have you ever, after training new or experienced employees, participated in a dialogue about, or overheard a dialogue where the topic has been that “Simon” will never learn it. Again, we have not achieved our KPIs, because there were many “new” and we even had our very best employee to train “Simon”?

In the same context, have you allowed yourself to ask what values and competencies the very best employee that you used for the training had in order to succeed in completing a good training?

Is it a given that the most skilled and fastest employee is also the best at completing good training? Have you really considered what the consequences and costs might be if the very best employee is not the very best at providing good training?

 

The person or persons responsible for training or educating new and experienced employees are in fact the ambassadors who convey the company’s values, give the direction of how we relate to quality, safety, tone of voice, care, and in general being the example of how an employee of our company is expected to act. So, educating or training is not just about passing on information about how a job is done, it is to a much greater extent the very best opportunity a company has to ensure the culture you want in the company.

That task often requires something completely different than being the most experienced, fastest, best employee. That task will often require a patient, careful, easy-going person who, with a sense of simple structure and with good analytical skills, will be able to create followers. Followers who obviously want to follow because it makes sense and not because they have to.

SPOT THE TRAINER TALENT - COACH SELECTION

But how do we get there? As with most other challenges where we want different results, we must approach it and act differently than we are used to. Finding the right profiles that can both do the job and train others we must find among our staff, often requires a different and structured approach. By using the “Spot the trainer talent” program, we can build the competencies to select the right profiles to handle the important task as Job trainer. The “Spot the trainer talent” program is built around a structured interview guide that will help us find facts about a candidate’s cognitive, communicative and analytical skills. Social attitude and motivation to handle the task as a job trainer. We find the facts through an interview with the candidate. A series of open-ended questions and some practical exercises provide us with a solid foundation to support the selection of the right candidates. By using the “Spot the trainer talent” program, we will provide fact-based feedback to the candidate, who can get constructive feedback on strengths and potential opportunities for improvement, regardless of whether he/she gets the job or not.

The competence to use the “Spot the trainer talent” program is built up through a 2-day practical training course where the participants are introduced to and learn to use the interview guide. Knowledge and competence are built up by the participants conducting practical interviews with invited candidates.

HOW HAVE WE DONE IN VELUX

For decades, and still, in many areas, the training and coaching of new and experienced employees takes place by the person or persons who are available with the best skills to perform the job. The person with the longest experience, the fastest or perhaps the one the area manager has the most confidence in. At the start of the TWI program, Job Instruction (JI) at our factories in resp. Slovakia and the Czech Republic, VELUX was introduced to the “Spot the trainer talent” course. It was taken in as an attempt to spot other candidates for the important role of job trainer than the usual “chosen few”. The result turned out to be overwhelming and the spot the talent approach has since been a regular part of TWI start-up in VELUX (now 7 factories).

“Using the “Spot the trainer talent” material, we were really well equipped to give the candidates feedback on their interview. Everyone could get a factual and understandable justification for why they were elected or not elected”. – Carsten Jensen HR Business Partner VELUX, Østbirk Bygnings Industri

“The fact that I interviewed the applicants for the TWI coaching job has given me a completely different view of my department and the potential that is actually hidden. From being biased about who had training competences, there were suddenly some completely different profiles that shone through, and which have since grown incredibly much with the role. I would not have been without the “Spot the trainer talent” process. – Anders Hald Jørgensen, Shop-floor manager, VELUX Thyregod Bygningsindustri.

“We received far more applicants than we had hoped for. A large part from employees we did not expect to want a training role. The use of “Spot the trainer talent” not only gave us some really good TWI JI trainers, but also several really good candidates for other positions in our organization. One year after we started with TWI JI trainers, more have grown with the job and now occupy other positions in the organization” – Juraj Michalik General Manager, VELUX Partizanske Building Components, Slovakiet

The road to this has gone through local HR business partners and area managers who have needed to select TWI JI trainers. They have completed the “Spot the trainer talent” course and subsequently the competences and the guide have been used in connection with the selection of trainers. Before we got there, however, there were challenges that needed to be addressed. How do you find candidates other than “the chosen few”? How do we handle the people we have previously used to train? etc. The worries were many before the first courses, subsequently it has formed a school for a structured process that has proved its worth. The process involves both the Campus manager, the area manager and other employees.

1. HR business partners and area managers undergo the “Spot the trainer talent” course.

2. The campus manager, area manager and HR launch a campaign that informs briefly 

     - About TWI and what it can give. 

    - That we want employees who want to train others to apply for the job/role as TWI JI -trainers

3. Employees apply for TWI JI trainer job.

    - Very simple application: Name and a sentence about why

4. interview with and feedback to all applicants, both selected and non-selected

WHAT ARE OUR EXPERIENCES

Every time we have started TWI Job instruction up the concerns have been: will anyone apply? Will it be the same as always? Will we get a different result? The answer has been the same to all the questions - YES. Wherever we have sought employees to take on the role of TWI JI trainers, we have found that unexpected candidates have applied. Demonstrated excellent potential and great competencies to handle just this role. Area managers have repeatedly been amazed at the untapped potential no one has seen before. In fact, to such an extent that the “Spot the trainer talent” approach has been used in connection with other hires. We have experienced up close that it is necessary to approach the selection of job coaches differently if we want to find the right profiles to handle this important task. The “Spot the trainer talent” program has given us a tool that enables us to spot the employees who are motivated by helping colleagues to do a good job and has the ability to create followers who build the skills to do a good job.

Your next step could be:

If you have any questions to the content in this article or to Training Within Industry (TWI) in general, you are most welcome to ask them directly to one of our Enablers, or by calling us. 

No matter what you do, it all starts with you daring to take the lead. 

About the author

Ole Magni is Business Improvement Partner at VELUX