Employee Training: What to Do When Employees Don’t Measure Up

These should be the first go-to tools when employees are not meeting your expectations.

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Effective Strategies for Employee Training

When an employee is unable to perform a task at an acceptable level, employee training will not be the complete answer. Your employee needs a different type of help: job coaching, mentoring, or job shadowing.

  • A job coach is a hands-on teacher. The employee attempts to perform the task and the job coach illustrates what he or she is doing wrong. A job coach can also demonstrate how to perform the task correctly. The employee practices with supervision and correction until they are able to successfully complete the task without further assistance from the coach.
  • Job shadowing, which often precedes coaching, includes an employee following (or shadowing) a successful employee who is performing a task; watching how the work is done. Then the employee attempts it. If the task is complex, your employee may need job coaching after shadowing another worker.
  • A mentor grooms an employee for greater responsibility and a promotion within the company. When an employee demonstrates exceptional skill level and leadership qualities that suggest the ability to perform higher level work, or more complex production assignments, a mentor can be both a motivator and instructor in the skills necessary. A mentor acts as both the person to shadow and the coach to instruct.

In-Work Employee Performance Support

Finally, I would like to suggest performance support as an additional employee training strategy. When we refer to performance support, we are looking at a tool or other resource, from print to technology-supported, which provides just the right amount of task guidance, support, and productivity benefits to the user — precisely at the moment of need.

Performance support is valuable because even if you decide to retrain underperforming employees, there is still only a percentage of knowledge fully retained and applied once the training sessions ends.

With in-work performance support, employees are provided real-time assistance immediately, so that the knowledge transferred is directly relevant, specific and timely. For example, my company, WalkMe provides online guidance on a website or software in which an employee is required to operate, providing for them step-by-step instructions on how to perform successfully any task, no matter how complex.

When dealing with employee underperformance, in-work performance support offers direct assistance when needed, providing a solution that is more cost-effective, impactful and longer-lasting than standard employee training.

The use of job coaching, job shadowing, and mentoring will frequently provide more benefit at a lower cost than job training. There will be less time lost to productive work, a faster learning curve, and less additional expenditure than is the case when bringing in an outside training organization. These should be the first go-to tools when employees are not meeting your expectations.


Dan Adika is CEO and Co-Founder at WalkMe, an online guidance and engagement platform. WalkMe provides a cloud-based service designed to help professionals – customer support managers, user experience managers, training professionals, SaaS providers and sales managers – to guide and engage prospects, customers, employees and partners through any online experience. A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog.

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