As the tire industry continues to change in response to changing technology, consumer demands and government regulations, the need for skilled and well-trained employees becomes more and more important. Many tire center managers now find themselves in a completely new role.
Today's manager not only has to provide comprehensive safety programs and procedures, he or she still has to plan and supervise daily operations as well as teach employees how to do the work. Many simply do not feel comfortable in a teaching role, nor do they have adequate time to devote to this critical aspect of management.
How is a busy manager to do justice to all these responsibilities? The answer may be right there in your own service department. Successful managers long have realized that, by delegating or sharing management responsibilities with others, those given the extra responsibilities will normally respond with a more positive attitude and increased motivation.
You can utilize this same approach with regard to safety training, or any other service department training, by taking advantage of the skills of your current employees and using a concept caller ``peer training.'' Using peer training demonstrates that you, as manager, believe in the team concept. For this reason, peer training is very often the best method to choose (even if you have the time to do the training yourself).
It should be obvious that in choosing a peer trainer, you must select someone who is an outstanding performer and holds many of the same values you do regarding work and the company. When the trainer holds those values, the person who is being trained is likely to adopt them as well.
Peer training also promotes competition between employees. Trainees may decide that they want to be trainers or that they can improve on the training program or work procedures.
The most positive effect of peer training is a
highly motivated employee. The trainers are motivated to do well because of the responsibility given them, and the trainees often will decide at some point in the training that they want to be like the trainer. There are a lot of factors to consider in choosing a peer trainer. Peer trainers must:
Take pride in their work;
Have outstanding work records.
Keep in mind that your peer trainer may not necessarily be someone who has been on the job for a long time. A somewhat new employee often can be an excellent trainer. Don't make assumptions. Check people out first! Your trainers must:
Be able to describe the overall effect on the company of the work they (and the trainees) do;
Let trainees know they are going to be a valuable part of the company;
Be patient with any lack of understanding on a trainee's part;
Be able to demonstrate the correct procedures by setting up trial-and-error situations that demonstrate how things work and by telling trainees why certain things will or won't work.
Allow trainees to learn from their mistakes;
Turn trainees loose a little at a time and make it clear when the training is done.
Peer training can be an important way of transmitting company policies and procedures from employee to employee. It can also save you time and money. Choosing the right person to be a peer trainer takes time and thought on your part, as does training that person to do the job the way it should be done.
If you would like more information on peer training and other techniques, I would recommend the following book: Training for Non-Trainers by Carolyne Wilson, which is available from the American Management Association.
Mr. Ludlow is assistant national service director for Tire America, based in Wheeling, W.Va.