Five Training Ideas When There's No Time to Train

Oct 15, 2003

There's never time to train in most veterinary practices.

All too often, much of a new employee's training ends up being by "osmosis," or the "hang-around-you'll-get-it" method. Training doesn't have to be so hit or miss.

Here are five quick and easy training tips to help new employees get up to speed and help more senior staff members stay on their game:

1. "Hot Potato" training: Take 15 minutes at a lunch meeting and pass around the travel sheet. Have each person take one thing (in order) from the travel sheet and explain it to the rest of the staff in language that clients would understand. If the person explaining the item does it he or she passes the travel sheet on to the next person; if not, use it as an opportunity to involve everyone in a discussion about better ways to explain it. Everyone benefits and the process can be repeated periodically until you have worked through the entire travel sheet.

2. "Your Worst Nightmare" training: At your next staff meeting, tell each staff member to be ready with a client nightmare story. Have a staff member tell his/her story. Next, have your team brainstorm solutions and other ways to deal with the nightmare client. This is a good "game" for ongoing training because there are always new situations to talk about and work through. Try to keep it light and fun.

3. The "10-Minute Brainstorm": Before your next staff meeting, ask two members of the team to role-play a sticky situation, such a client complaining about a bill. They can ham it up if they like. The idea is to get a scene out that the team can use to brainstorm and think of better ways to handle. Keep the brainstorming session short -- even use a10-minute timer with a bell to make it feel more game -like. After the brainstorm, have the two staff members role play again using the team's ideas. If your staff is very large, break the group into two teams and have each team role play their solutions in a friendly competition.

4. The "Teach-back": When a staff member goes to a seminar or outside program, tell them that when they come back, they will need to do a 15-minute "teach back" on some key ideas that they learned in the program. There's no better way to learn something than to teach it to someone else, and this way the whole team benefits from the program.

5. "Do it Yourself" Training: Use videotapes and CD-ROMS for new employee training. There are excellent programs available, or make your own. Have the new employee watch the tape or CD-ROM and take a short test on what they have seen. This way each new employee is exposed to the same information, the same way and you have a solid base on which to build more advanced, on-the-job training.