Johnny on the spot. Nick of time. Godsend. These are some common phrases that indicate the importance of timing. Have you ever seen a manager walk by an employee who said something wrong to a customer, but not do anything about it? Or watched a coach ignore the error of an athlete? Sometimes “in the moment” is the only effective time training can happen.
A friend of mine was a cop in a small town in California and invited me to go for a ride-a-long with him. We were back at the station having just eaten and were heading out to his car when he suddenly stopped me in the hallway. Grabbing my arm, he turned me around, looked me straight in the eye and said “Never miss the opportunity to use the bathroom.”
Now I thought this was a bit odd so I asked him why. “Because” he said, “you never know what kind of call you will get and how long you’ll be stuck in the field. Use the bathroom when ever you can and you’ll save yourself a lot of pain.” Good advice. (As a side note, I was glad I used the bathroom-an hour later he accidentally backed his car into a tree and we spent many hours away from a restroom.)
I saw him the other day (now years later) and started thinking about this quote again. It actually has a lot of application in training. As a teacher, I knew the best time to correct my students was when the mistake happened. It’s easier to re-teach a math problem in the moment then it is two days later.
The same is true when training an employee. If you see a mistake, and can correct it in the moment, retention and understanding will be much higher. Does a Drill Instructor in the military correct bad shooting form the next day in the classroom or on the range when he sees it. When it’s corrected in the moment, the instructor can have the soldier show they understand. The fresh mistake is overwritten in their mind by corrective actions, and the right procedure sticks.
I know you can ‘t do everything in the moment – sometimes schedules just don’t allow it. But when you can, seize the moment.
Have you ever had an instance where training in the moment made a real difference? I’d love to hear about it.
(on an odd side note: just as I finished the draft of this, I actually had to stop and train someone who said something wrong to a customer-kinda freaky. Maybe next time I’ll write about winning a million dollars…)