September 4

Do They Really Get It? Competency Training That Works! by Richard Tyson

Competency, Engagement, Leadership


Do they really get it?

One of the most prevalent concerns in employee training is whether learners have actually attained the competencies required  to deliver the outcomes for which they were hired. This challenge is often exacerbated by the tendency of adult learners to be less than forthcoming when they are asked “if they get it.”

Employees may fear admitting that they don’t understand something because this might be perceived as a lack of effort or intelligence. While this fear is understandable, it creates a barrier to obtaining the necessary guidance required to gain required job competencies. This often leads to needless mistakes when the employee has moved into real-time situations.

When employees are reluctant to admit a lack of understanding, it becomes challenging for managers and colleagues to provide necessary feedback and support. Without awareness of the gaps in the knowledge and skills of learners, trainers may rely on implied competencies that just aren’t there.

So, what can be done to overcome this inherent competency training challenge? Clearly, the solution must include the ability for corporate training to gain an assurance that employees actually do “get it,” that they not only understand what is expected of them, but they can actually do their jobs.

One of the best approaches I have utilized over the years has been what is known as the “See, Hear, Say, and Do Training Model.” It is a comprehensive approach that incorporates multiple learning modalities to enhance the development of job competencies.

Here’s how the model works:

  • See: The “See” component provides visual demonstrations, examples, or visual aids to allow learners to observe the desired competencies. This may be done by having the learner view others actually performing the desired tasks, or through the use of videos, diagrams, charts, or presentations.
  • Hear: The “Hear” component focuses on auditory learning. Once a learner has “seen” the desired tasks being performed, the trainer repeats the demonstration, but then adds spoken instructions and explanations to reinforce what is being taught. Seeing when accompanied by listening–and hearing–significantly increases the likelihood that the learner will “get it.” The Hearing component can be further strengthened by encouraging learners to take notes.
  • Say: The “Say” component might also be described as “Tell.” At this stage, learners are requested to instruct the trainer, telling him or her what to do. This generally works best where the trainer performs the required task according to what the learner tells them. This is an early indicator of the learner’s understanding, and it readily exposes any misunderstandings or shortcomings. This is a transformative phase, wherein the learner becomes an active participant in their own competency development. It allows for clarification of doubts and collaboration and knowledge sharing between the trainer and the learner.
  • Do: The “Do” component requires the learner to show their understanding and competence by actually doing the tasks required in the job. This is often best done multiple times and may be accompanied by the learner telling the instructor what they are doing–and why they are doing it–as they perform those tasks. By actively engaging in tasks that mirror real work situations, learners can practice and refine their competencies, gain confidence, and develop a deeper understanding of how to apply their growing knowledge.

The See, Hear, Say, and Do training model leverages different learning modalities to cater to diverse learning styles and enhance the overall learning experience. By incorporating visual, auditory, verbal, and kinesthetic elements, this model promotes active participation, deepens understanding, and helps learners transfer new knowledge and skills to real-world contexts.

The See, Hear, Say, and Do model can be effectively utilized for both manual skills and cognitive skills training, with slight variations in emphasis and application. It’s important to note that while this model offers a comprehensive approach to competency training, it’s essential to consider the specific learning needs and preferences of those whom you train.

Adapting the training content and methods to accommodate different learning styles and providing a balance between each component will maximize the effectiveness of the model. Additionally, it is important to provide ongoing reinforcement, feedback, and support as the learner goes “live” with what they have learned. All of this will combine to provide the answer we all desire: They actually do get it!

About the author 

Rich Tyson

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