Teach Your Employees To Teach One Another

“To teach is to learn twice over.” – Joseph Joubert (Pensees, 1842)

If you spend a lot of time training and retraining your employees, you may be making a big mistake. You can change things for the better by passing on the responsibility for teaching new employees to your students.

Here’s how: Let’s say you are a marketing manager and you have had to teach your assistants how to purchase printing, make up list grids, or use a marketing spreadsheet. Rather than continuing to teach each new employee the same routine (how boring!), teach the next one that you hire not only the routine but also how to teach it.

By teaching your student how to teach a skill, you force him to learn it extremely well (well enough to teach it without embarrassment) and you free yourself from future repetitious efforts.

Teaching someone to teach takes time. It also takes some skill. You have to consider not only the tasks that are involved in the job but also the best ways of explaining them. Still, it will be well worth the time and effort that you put into it.

There are additional benefits to establishing this kind of mentoring program:

* You provide the new employee with a corporate friend, someone to turn to for advice.

* The mentor feels responsible for the new employee’s performance — and they both learn that responsibility is best when shared.

* For a while at least, a separate pair of eyes will be carefully reviewing the early work of every new employee. This should result in fewer mistakes — fewer problems that will need to be fixed later.

* The mentor will probably rise to a higher level of commitment and dedication to the business. He’ll take himself and his job more seriously.

For my money, a decentralized mentor system is generally superior to a centralized training facility. Sometimes, you need both. But whatever you do, don’t keep teaching the same old thing yourself.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]