Recently, my son was selected for supervisor training at the bank where he works. He started out on the first day with great excitement, binder in hand, ready to learn new procedures and techniques.
But that soon passed.
“It’s horrible!” he yelled at the end of day three.
“Horrible?” I asked. “Why?”
He spoke heatedly. “So, for example, they trained us on how to correct a teller and they want it done in this highly specific way, but all they do is repeat these particular words we have to use. There are no concepts. How can we apply this anywhere else if all we’re learning is to say certain words? I thought I was going to get actual ideas.”
Apparently, the whole training is an exercise in rote memorization. There’s a proper protocol for every interaction, and certain words and phrases are drilled into every trainee without any context communicated around them.
On the one hand, I see what the bank is doing, and it’s brilliant. Rather than rely on the spotty judgment of a 21-year-old, they’ve templated every supervisory interaction into simple steps. This increases the odds that the bank’s branding remains intact, as well as limiting liability. But I see my son’s point, too. While it is not the bank’s job to offer a degree in management theory, it would be helpful if they provided young employees with tools for their further professional development.
All of this made me think about training in the aquatics industry. I’ve seen a lot of different approaches to education and sometimes I’ve noticed too much “concept,” while in other instances, there’s too much rote. So if you find yourself training a young person, take the time to think about how the information should best be conveyed. Consider your company’s needs as well as the needs of that person who will probably not work for you for the rest of their life, yet will always remember the effect you had.
I recall my first boss carefully telling me how to fill out a W-4 and the meaning of “claiming an allowance.” He’s long since retired, but the thought he put into passing along that information has stayed with me for 34 years. As Albert Einstein famously said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”