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Practice makes perfect at work, too

Columnist Kristen Asleson says in a classroom, on a production line, or in the field, employees of all levels need to learn and practice their job skills.

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Practice makes perfect ... but does it really?

Students, athletes, employees — everyone — hear this phrase a lot. And, in some cases, it may be true.

For example, my 17-year-old son is a varsity basketball player and his dad is the coach. Oftentimes, practices do not end when the schedule indicates they will and plays are repeated over and over. This creates a few cranky players, and they take their complaints to my son. “Why did practice go long tonight? Why do we do that over and over again?" Why, why, why?

Of course, they are taking their complaints to the wrong person because he too is simply a player and should not bear the responsibility of taking the complaints to dad.

When he tells me about the complaints, I simply respond with, “You know what they say: practice makes perfect.” To which he rolls his eyes, half smiles and wanders away muttering, “Yes mother.”

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There is a study, “Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education and Professions: A Meta-Analysis,” that reviewed 88 previous studies of 11,135 participants. This study determined, “Deliberate practice was a strong overall predictor of success in many performance domains, and not surprisingly, people who report practicing a lot generally tend to perform at a higher level than people who practice less.”

When you are at work, practice/repetition may not make the end product perfect, but it sure will make improvements and produce better and better outcomes each time. Right?

That would be a correct assumption if the trainer is training adequately. However, if the training time does not provide for repetition and practice of the skills, the learner will forget quickly. In turn, the product or service will be done differently each time it is performed.

How can we expect perfection from employees if they are not trained well enough?

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In order to improve the level of performance of employees, “practice makes perfect,” needs to be employed. The length of training needs to be long enough for consistency in outcomes being of the specific quality and quantity desired. The downside to this is that most employers and business owners want trained employees sooner rather than later. Thus, the length of training time gets cut short.

An article on trainingindustry.com shared this tip in regards to corporate training. “If your training objective is to increase your sales forces’ knowledge of product information so they can answer questions more accurately and faster, then send daily knowledge boosts to them. This will help improve their knowledge and retention of critical product information, ultimately improving their performance on the job and with customers.”

Whether in a classroom, on a production line, or in the field, employees of all levels need to learn and practice their job skills.

If you are an employer, remember, “Practice makes perfect,” so provide the practice in the form that helps meet the objectives.

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Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to news@postbulletin.com .

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