Professional Carwashing & Detailing

How People Learn

CarWash College™ Preventive Maintenance Tip of the Month

December 1, 2009

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When teaching the Management class, it seems people often have the same question when it comes to employees. "Why is it so hard to get them to follow simple directions and perform simple tasks?" Understanding the way people learn will provide clarity to that question and prepare you to meet that challenge. People learn using their five (5) senses; seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.

On the job, the way most information is conveyed is through telling someone something. When you tell someone something, have you ever received a blank stare from the person you were talking to? Most of us have.

So it should be no surprise that only 13% of people utilize 'hearing' as their primary sense of learning. The overwhelming percentage of the population, 75%, learns from seeing. If you just tell someone to do something that they have never done before, your chances are approximately 1 in 8 that they will do it correctly. If you tell them and show them, your chances are approximately 7 out of 8 that they will do it correctly. That's why it's so important to have procedures in place for training your employees that tell them, and show them, the task they need to learn.

Now they have been told and shown the task once, they’ll be able to do it perfectly every time right? Not quite. Memory storage and retention is another important component of how people learn. After seeing, hearing, and touching something (i.e., learning it), how much does the average person retain 1 hour later? Only 50% – 8 hours later, an unbelievable 35%.

So, close to 2/3 of what you teach someone is gone inside of a day. Hard to believe, isn't it? The biggest mistake we all make when it comes to retaining what we've learned is simply not referring back to the information that we originally learned from. The most important part of teaching is repetition.

Hopefully this information will, at the very least, help you understand why it can take so long for an employee to get it right. Now would be a good time to determine if your training methods leave your employees at an advantage or disadvantage. What you discover just might allow you to be a bit more empathetic when you are training someone on a new task.

Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at RAndre@carwashcollege.com. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit www.carwashcollege.com or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.