Are you adapting different training modalities for your employees?

by Nancy Hassel, American Pet Professionals

Have you ever stopped to think, what is the best way that you learn?


What modality of education or training serves you best when learning? 


Hands on, by doing? 
Training Videos?
Reading a brochure? 
Following an employee around to train with them?
All of the above?


How do you consume information and education that you can apply what you learned?  Perhaps you already know.  For me, I personally take in information the best by listening, audio, think podcasts, then visual, how to videos, hands on/doing, and then reading. 


I have always been more of a hands-on person when learning a new task, but often watched a video on ‘how to.’  For example a few years ago, I purchased a kayak and how to load that nearly 70lb kayak onto my car, was an entire new learning process.  It is not easy to lift a kayak on to j-hooks onto your car, and know how to secure it properly so it won’t go flying off your car as your driving 60 mph down the highway. 


I learned ‘how to’ by watching YouTube videos. 


The list of how to that I have learned from courses on video or via YouTube is endless, video editing, recipes, gardening, and so on.   And I bet you have a long list of what you may have learned as well.  Or perhaps, video tutorials are not the way you learn. 


I also do read books on various topics, and read articles, and of course write them, as you’re reading this. However, YouTube tutorials, or courses with videos as part of the learning process, and then hands on – will always far out weigh reading a book for me. 


In my past life I was a TV Producer and production coordinator and almost everything in that part of my career was learned by doing, both in college and on the job. Was there training on the job? Some - yes, but you wear so many hats that you are thrown into to different projects daily – that adapting to new challenges and figuring things out was part of learning on the job process.  


Podcasts, for me, are fantastic way to listen and learn on the go, as I am cleaning, driving or chilling out.  I love business, marketing and social media podcasts – I have learned so much over the years, just by listening and not being distracted.  And have also been inspired so much by listening to podcasts.


In past jobs, learning by doing is a way I have learned, but not always the best way to learn.  Unless it is an actual training process, i.e. you train with another employee, not just thrown into the fire.  Granted, I am pretty good at figuring things out as I go, but not everyone learns on the go, as a business leader with employees, I am sure you know that by now. 


Have you ever asked an employee or future employee how they prefer to learn/train?


Or are you of the old school giving them the worst job at your business to start out –to weed out employees?  I know this method could work to weed out some potential employees, but also does not seem uplifting or exciting for your new prospect as they are doing possibly the worst job at your business.  I know you’re thinking but we just need another person here to help – I get that.  I also remember being the employee at past new jobs with an awful week long pounding headache as the ‘training’ or lack there of was overwhelming and with ridiculous expectations of taking it all in that first week or two.  Anyone else?


How do you lead your team when it comes to training and education of your business?


Do you only have one way to teach your employees?  Or do you have various methods in which new employees can be trained, learn and existing employees/managers can implement new training methods?


  • Training on the job
  • Training guides/policies/procedures readily accessible to your staff on a binder/on computer or on a app
  • Training Videos and/or Audio
  • Assessing employees in their training to find where they need help.
  • Send your employees to continuing education in your specific field of the pet industry?


Everyone learns differently.


Everyone handles situations differently.

How are you training your employees as a leader, to handle situations so that they feel confident and it reflects on your brand and culture?


Some pet business owners I worked with and spoken to over the years on this topic, have the ‘follow me around the store, and I teach them that way.”  Which I have been trained like that in a pet boutique in the past, and yes you do learn the methods of the store – but you can’t remember everything.
And, that can also be overwhelming, especially if you never asked them how they like to learn.  It may not be the way you teach or have ever trained an employee, but maybe you could at least think about different training modalities for your new employees.  You wouldn’t want to loose who you thought was going to be a fantastic fit for your business, because you were unorganized, lacked training procedures, or ‘this is the way we have always done it’ attitude, when it comes to your own training methods. Be leaders my friends, not bosses. 


Do you implement any testing to see what kind of employee they may be?


Are your new or potential employees Visionaries or an Integrators?  


I know I may have lost some readers with that, but really think about it.  There is a fantastic simple test you could take by Rocket Fuel to figure out where you or your employee falls on the Visionary or Integrator range when it comes to running your business.


This is a simple test you can have potential employees take and share the results with you.  Perhaps you have a few job openings, and the person who you thought would be perfect for Job A is actually much more suited for Job B, after learning the test results and really asking them what their goals are, what they love to do and so on.


I would even suggest you take the test above to know which category you fall under.  I am a Visionary, but definitely have the background of an integrator in which I now delegate out a lot of those tasks, because you can’t be both 50/50 in my opinion.  Not for the long haul anyway.


There is also the classic Myers Briggs Personality Testing – again you and your staff could take these to see where you stand.


Do you hone in your employee skills, and what they love to do and help them exceed at that – that will ultimately help your business?


As a business owner, how are you making the learning process fun?
Rewarding? Exciting for your employees?


Are you creating a team culture at your business that people want to be part of?


Do you ever ask your employees what inspires them?


As your implementing training for an employee –make sure that all your employees, even if that is two people, have gone through the same training, understand the same policies/procedures.  Or if you are starting a new training process that everyone goes through it together.

This will help keep your pet brand/store/grooming business policies the same from employee to employee to you the leader. It will help ensure that your brand is reflected through that training to your customers –no matter what employee is at the helm that day.


If a customer asks a question or has a problem, the answer/solution should be the same from all your staff/team members.


By providing different modalities of training for the different ways your employees learn –your brand/voice/solution to an issue will be the same with every employee.


Nobody wants an employee saying: “That’s not my job.”


Clearly defined job titles are great, but also rewarding your employees who took the next step and helped a team member out without ego –will be admired by others on your team.


How do you know when training with different modalities –that your employee actually gets it?  Implement quizzes or reward the behavior as they learn and fully understand each task.  Make the quiz fun –and on brand with your pet business and training!


Thanking your employees, keeping the team morale high, leaning into what they do best is going to make them want to continue to work with you and look up to your leadership and training styles.  And your Managers should be doing the same.


When hiring and training a new employee, let them know if there is growth potential within your company, if there is.


But also make sure that is clearly defined, outlined and that they master this area of their job, they can start training for the next level up - if that is something you offer.  And of course if you now know their best way they learn, this will make the next steps easier on their journey within your business.

I would love to hear from you on the best ways that you learn, and if you already offer different training/learning modalities for your employees.  

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