Who should teach in the workplace?

A recent statistic I saw from Leadership IQ started me thinking.  It stated that 67 percent of employees surveyed learned more about their responsibilities from their co-workers than from their managers.  Now the article goes on to talk about why having high performers do this teaching may hurt your organization and there are some valid points when talking about the role of these high performers and their influence on the newest people in the organization.

However, shouldn’t we strive to allow people other than managers to teach and train?  Aren’t the real world examples that can be utilized invaluable to the education of new people?  I believe they are and the establishment of solid co-worker relationships in the workplace can make the job of a manager easier than if they are the “answer” for everyone and everything.

When I first started in my current job, the introductory training was done entirely by one person.  We have numerous state-mandated classes that people have to go through before they are permitted to work.  These pertain to the safety, care, and rights of the people with developmental disabilities that we serve and are very important.  Even though I was not required to go through all of the training (as an “administrative staff”) I chose to go through it and was generally appalled at the methods, information, and techniques being used by the one person designated as the agency trainer.  Quickly, we changed how we trained and started to use experienced employees who were able to relate their “real world” experiences to the information that is required by the state curriculum.  Given some training in adult learning styles, implementation of competency based testing, and the chance to be viewed as an “expert” by our new hires, this group of employees are now positively viewed and are frequently sought out by managers to ensure that the alignment of the classroom and location training is linked as closely as possible. 

Once our newly hired direct support professionals are working, they often are working solo and may not have the chance to see a supervisor on a daily basis.  Being able to rely upon solid experienced co-workers also provides people with the chance to ask questions that they may not want to ask a supervisor if they believe that they should know the information already.  A co-workers can be safer for the “less important” questions and someone serving as a mentor can help establish a confidence that can carry through the entire career of an employee.

So, 67 percent learn more from a co-worker than their manager.  If people are following one of my core pieces of advice and hiring those who are smarter than themselves, then the organization should continue to grow in its knowledge. 

Go ahead and teach a co-worker something today – everyone will benefit from it!

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