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Which is the best container to carry water, a bucket or a jug? You can fill a bucket faster, but is that the only thing you want to accomplish? The same holds true with training.

When training your people to do their jobs, do you use the bucket or the jug method? An effective learning process is more like a jug than a bucket. You can fill a bucket faster, but try to move that full bucket and the chances are you’ll lose some of the contents along the way. Pouring the contents of the bucket is also tricky. Spillage is inevitable.

The jug takes longer to fill, but the contents are easier to move and with less chance of losing any. Pouring the jug is slower but more accurate.

How is training or education like the bucket/jug example?

If we expose most people to a lot of information in a short period of time, it’s like filling a bucket. It’s fast, and we walk away with a full bucket. But most people can’t retain large volumes of information. If we could, we’d all have our MBAs in six months. However, that doesn’t happen. We simply don’t have the capacity to ‘download’ two days or even two weeks of detail and then recall it when we want it. The spillage is too great.

Filling the jug takes longer. We add a smaller volume and consistently fill the vessel. The result when moving it is we don’t get the spillage. That’s what happens in the education system and whenever we experience an adult learning model in training. Small pieces of information are provided, we absorb it, adapt it, get comfortable with it, learn to recall it and use it when we need it.

It’s the same way we learned in school. We could probably take in all the works of Shakespeare in four weeks, but how long would we retain it?

When you train your people which method do you use? Some companies bring the new employees in, give them the two-day or two-week crash course of product and sales training and cut them loose. They throw them into the deep end and expect them to sink or swim. “Here’s everything you’ll ever need to know. Go get ‘em!” They literally fill them up fast and expect them to understand, retain and recall everything they’ve been exposed to. You’d be surprised how many times that really happens.

Statistics have shown that the planning, strategy, and execution that goes into onboarding a new employee is directly related to the time it takes that employee to make a meaningful contribution to the company. It also has a direct relationship to how long they stay with you. That can either be because they don’t turn out to be a good fit for the position, or they don’t see a place for their professional growth and they move on. Either way, you lose. The cost of developing a new employee is staggering. In most cases ten to twenty thousand dollars or more. That kind of cost is worth the investment to properly train your team members and have them view your company as one where they want to build their career and your business.

Jeff Pankoff

Jeff Pankoff

Jeff Pankoff is the Owner & President of Sandler Training by NorthStar Performance Partners, LLC serving Minneapolis, MN and the Twin Cities area