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Break down barriers with peer-to-peer training

The best staff training, says a Missouri manager, is the training staff give one another. And at her office, her staff of 25 do just that. They hold training sessions for one another on a “when-needed, what’s-needed, and who-needs-it” basis.

There’s no set routine. The manager simply schedules an in-service whenever she sees a problem in the workflow. Perhaps the billing department isn’t getting correct data or someone is having a hard time understanding a procedure. Sometimes staff ask for sessions.

Instead of explaining it herself to the people involved, the manager lets staff do the job. She names the people who will attend and appoints two staffers to be the instructors. Participation is limited to those who need to know about the topic, usually no more than six, and fewer if possible. Some sessions are even one on one. The two leaders are completely in charge because she believes the most effective education is peer-to-peer and department-to-department, with the manager standing out of the way. Afterwards, the trainers report back to her on what was covered and what results were achieved.

The sessions are held in a conference room where the office has installed a presentation computer screen. The large screen lets everybody see the why of things. If staff are explaining data collection, they can pull up a billing screen and say, “When this is omitted, this is what it causes” or, “This is what helps us.”

Each meeting is strictly limited to 30 minutes. Longer than that, and people get overwhelmed with too much information. There is usually a session every two weeks, though if the office had more time, there could be one every week.

Through the educational approach, the manager says staff have come to view the rough spots of their jobs as topics to discuss and explain as opposed to complain about. Moreover, the approach has built self-esteem, because it illustrates the importance of each person’s job. And it’s broken down the barriers between departments, because staff see how every person’s job impacts operations throughout the office.

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