• Mellanie Page

3 Ways to Help Employees Become More Skillful

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

Skilled staff have accomplished one thing: they can do the tasks required of their position. Now, as shocking as it may sound, not all staff demonstrate skill.

Before we dive into how to teach “#skill”, let's dispel some common myths:

“The staff that I hire should already possess all of the necessary skills to carry out the tasks of their job.”

“The staff that I hire and rigorously train should now be successful at their jobs forever.”

“Adults shouldn’t need checklists or aids to help accomplish the core tasks of their jobs.”

As utopic as this sounds, most staff will not be able to enter a position (even one they have previously had elsewhere) and complete the tasks of that position successfully without some TLC. In fact, prior experience in a similar position with different “skills” or “tasks” could make it even more challenging to teach a new set of behaviors. 

How can we support a workforce of #skilled staff? Below, I've reviewed three of the tools and techniques I use in my Performance Optimization Plans.

Job Descriptions - A GOOD job description is often more difficult to find than a good job. A job description should include a concise outline of expectations for how the person hired will bring your team closer to your company’s mission and vision. If you understand what your company’s goals are, you can reverse engineer a job description that gets you there. Job descriptions support accountability and increase the likelihood of attracting the perfect candidate. While this tool primarily serves as a proactive approach, it can also help staff recalibrate with their expected contribution to company results. Job descriptions can also motivate staff toward a common goal by providing a clear correlation between their behavior or #skills and the bottom line. 

Checklists - Atul Gawande, author of Checklist Manifesto, told BusinessNews Publishing: “We don’t like checklists. They can be painstaking. They’re not much fun. But I don’t think the issue here is mere laziness. There’s something deeper, more visceral going on when people walk away not only from saving lives but from making money. It somehow feels beneath us to use a checklist, an embarrassment. It runs counter to deeply held beliefs about how the truly great among us – those we aspire to be – handle situations of high stakes and complexity. The truly great are daring. They improvise. They do not have protocols and checklists. Maybe our idea of heroism needs updating.” No statement could be truer about this genius yet highly avoided tool. Checklists generate freedom and time by taking out the guesswork of menial tasks and allowing our mental energy to be spent on innovating.

Fluency Training - Fluency allows individuals to perform at same or similar levels when affected by distraction, stress, or other common ailments of what we call “a job”. When tasks in our repertoire become both accurate and automated, we are more likely to complete them quickly and precisely. In my opinion, this is especially true in an ABA practice. Once trained, staff should have the opportunity to practice skills until they become fluent. Research across several subjects, industries, and skill sets indicates that fluency can assist in improving the outcomes of challenging and complex tasks.

This article is part of a series that focuses on optimizing staff performance.

To learn more about assessing and optimizing the performance of your team or developing a highly effective training, visit our site.


Gawande, A. (2010). The checklist manifesto: How to get things right. New York: Metropolitan Books.

#obm #obmconsultant #managementconsulting #performancemanagement #performanceoptimization #staffperformance


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