I am a Millennial. Yes, I am somewhat new to the workforce. However, I have noticed a common trend among my experiences with each of my jobs. Whether the task was data entry or cashiering, my bosses all seemed to use the same general training method: throw the new hire in head first, with only a brief explanation on how to do the job. Typically, after this incredibly brief training, I was left to figure it out for myself and either sink or swim.
Fortunately for me, I was able to put two and two together get the job done efficiently. However I was always left wondering, why was I trained this way? I remember finding it frustrating in my second job that I couldn’t figure out how to work a Square card reader on the iPad. The jumbled mess of prices and items for sale certainly didn’t help. Now being on my third job, and having been trained the same way as the two prior, it is beginning to feel like every new hire in any job is trained like this. So far, for me, it has failed.
Drinking from the Fire Hose
So, why does this form of training fail? After all, I figured it out, so surely it must be working. Maybe that’s true when you’re a fast food or retail cashier, but what if you are a new hire in your first corporate job? As a millennial who has been the new hire in a big corporate job I can tell you right now what all my employers have missed with training me, and it’s simple really.
It turns out that I , do not learn through the fire hose method. Whether it was a mound of papers, two hundred plus impatient customers, or piles upon piles of filing, I was always left immediately confused and way in over my head. I never knew where I stood. I did not know if I was meeting expectations. After a long while of thinking, I believe I have finally figured out what I wish my employers did.
Training A Better Way
What’s better than dropping ten to fifteen files, stuffed full of unorganized information, in the new hire’s lap? I personally would have preferred one or two files out of the fifteen, and been left to sort those out. Then start introducing more and more files over time. I would have had it down pat and my employer wouldn’t have been left with an incredibly flustered employee who took probably ten times longer to do the task than was necessary. I would have also like to have know what the expectations of my employer were. How many files should I be able to do in a day?
To most employers, I imagine when it took me longer to learn or complete a task, it appeared lazy. Here’s the thing though, after that first week of trying to make sense of the mess, something changed, everything clicked, and I found a very fast way to get the job done. I completed the rest of the job in a week as opposed to the six weeks I was originally expecting it to take. So, the question here is: why? Because I figured out the job after I got through sorting through the mess.
So, what if employers simply cut out the mess? What if, when an employer brought on a new hire, they gave them one task and let them learn that? Then start introducing newer and more complex tasks after that? I call this the sink faucet method. The thing is, I don’t necessarily think this method would only be effective for millennials.
What Would You Prefer?
No matter your age, imagine if you learned to play the piano. Would you rather learn where the notes on the sheet music correlate to the keys first? Or would you rather have to learn Beethoven’s 5th Symphony ” with absolutely no clue what keys correlate to what notes, have it learned by the end of the day, with hardly any help at all? That probably sounds impossible. That’s because it is impossible. That’s the difference between the sink faucet method and the fire hose method.
I am tired of the fire hose method and I would think many other people are too. Inevitably, every job is at least one thing: a learning experience. I didn’t leave my previous jobs because I was lazy or because I wanted to be the boss after two months. I left because I did not know where I stood. There were no clear expectations. I didn’t feel like I was making a contribution to the team because I didn’t know if I was doing a good job.