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3 Different Styles of Communication and How they Impact Training Techniques

Tuesday August 2nd 2016

Styles_of_Communication-500Training techniques can impact many aspects of your company, such as employee retention, compliance with policies and procedures, and consistency of employee performance, just to name a few. How you communicate with your employees during training can make or break their experience with your company from their very first days on the job.

Do you take a passive approach or personal approach? Are the training tools you use handbook-based or interactive? By evaluating how you communicate and how you train your employees, you can strike a balance between self-guided study and hands-on learning from which employees with different learning styles can appreciate and benefit.

1. Passive Communication

Passive communication during training simply states facts or policies but doesn’t provide examples of situations in which those policies apply. For example, at Serenity Café, baristas are told to use only dairy milk in the large steamer and non-dairy milk in the smaller steamer. Sometimes this policy is overlooked because employees do not understand the importance of keeping the steamers separate. There is a policy in place, but the reasoning behind it is not known, thus the employees have nothing to which they can relate this policy.

Passive communication can serve as a great reminder on signs above pieces of equipment or as a memory jogger, but may not help employees abide by a certain rule on its own because of its lack of relatability.

A passive style of communication regarding training techniques usually involves employee handbooks or manuals and therefore involves lists or concepts that may or may not be illustrated by examples. However, if all a company does for training is hand a new employee a textbook, without on-the-job training, the employee is not given the opportunities to put policies and procedures into practice. This can later lead to miscommunication with the employee.

While handbooks and manuals are great reference tools, employee training should not be limited to these resources. Passive communication can lead to an employee having a lack of confidence in his/her job and, as a result, lead to unnecessary termination or turnover simply because the employee didn’t understand what was really required.

2. Personal Communication

Personal communication helps employees to take responsibility for their actions and shows them how policies and procedures relate to them. For example, in the case of the two milk steamers, personal communication would explain to the trainee that the reason behind the separate pieces of equipment. When mixed, the two types of milk leave behind a residue that is hard to clean. Additionally, many customers have milk allergies or are lactose intolerant so they can’t have a drink that potentially has traces of milk. Not all of Serenity’s employees may make that connection when it comes to this policy, so it is important that the barista trainees are walked through the process of cleaning the machines and are told the reasons why Serenity avoids cross-contamination when it comes to steamers.

Personal communication works well for training. After reading the information on a given task in the job, the employee then practices the scenario about which they have learned. Interactive or on-the-job training is a great way to create a more personal experience for your employees. By providing employees with experiences, they now have a way to relate to the policies of your company, as well as understand the “why” behind different policies and procedures.

When employees get the chance to practice what they’ve read and heard, they will often have a better understanding of why their actions matter. This opportunity increases employee motivation and success, making you more confident in your employees’ decisions on the job, as well as instilling confidence in them that they understand how to do their jobs well.

3. Both Passive and Personal Communication

Both passive and personal communication styles are important for your employees to thoroughly understand the value their jobs hold in your company. Resources such as manuals are still important. Manuals are especially important when used as a reference or a quick reminder. For example, a poster near a sink reminding foodservice employees to wash their hands before returning to work is a simple yet effective use of a reference tool.

Taking the time to teach new employees in a hands-on way, such as job shadowing, may seem time consuming, but it is well worth the effort. It may reduce employee error and turnover in the long term.  Each employee is unique and has his/her own learning style. By communicating to employees in a variety of ways you are ensuring their success on the job.

When you clearly communicate the learning objectives for your employees, they will be better able to tell you what they need to know in order to do their jobs correctly. When they have this confidence, they will become invaluable resources to you and your customers.

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