In working as chemist for the past 20 years, I have been both the trainer and the trainee. These experiences range across various laboratory settings, from three laboratory employees to hundreds. Each laboratory defines training differently; a well-established process by which someone is taught the skills that are necessary for a profession or a job. It also has well-defined learning objectives and formality.
In modern day training, there is a strong focus on the trainer being a subject matter expert. The trainer has extensive experience or knowledge in the subject that is being delivered. It is expected that the participants in the training learn from the trainer. It is a formal process in which guidelines must be followed objectives accomplished, and skills verified.Through mentorship, the mentor teaches by giving advice or guidance to a less experience person in an informal manner. The mentor shares his or her own personal experiences, insights, and knowledge. It is not focused on any specific skills; is more focused on overall development. Mentoring is more relationship-based rather than performance based.
Although I have seen improvements being made in training guidelines, mentoring is falling behind. I have encountered that senior and experienced trainers may refuse to share their experience, insights, or knowledge. This knowledge, insight, and experience comes from the years of working in the laboratory. This information or details may be crucial and can’t be found on a standard operating guideline. Information, details that can’t be found once the resource is gone. Frustration is the word that comes to mind when all of this “historical” knowledge is lost and cannot be found.
How do we make the culture shift to ensure that this does not happen again? What are some of the steps that we can take to bring awareness to the challenge if we are experiencing it within our own workplaces? In YOUR workplace – are you training or mentoring?
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series coming up in a few weeks with answers to these questions!