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Tips for Conducting a Successful Training Session for Your Dairy’s Hispanic Employees

Apr 04, 2011

Providing pizza in a comfortable meeting environment and limiting information to six points are among ways to ensure successful training.

 
Chahine photo   CopyBy Dr. Mireille Chahine, University of Idaho
 
Training and development of employees is very important to dairies of any size. In order to have a good job performance, it is crucial for the Hispanic worker to understand why he/she is following a certain procedure. Training builds the morale of the employees, improves their performance, and ultimately positively affects the financial situation of a dairy. It also inculcates a sense of team work and collaboration.
 
Persons with the necessary language skills, people skills, and knowledge must conduct the training session. It is generally not a good idea to have a worker from the dairy do translations or training sessions, especially if he/she was not hired to do such a job. Asking a worker to translate for other fellow workers could create an environment of animosity in the workplace as it is perceived by some workers as favoritism.  
 
If you decide to ask a dairy employee to be a translator, make sure the employee is fluent in both languages and is correctly translating your message. I was recently on a dairy where an employee was distorting the instructions he was supposed to relay and was asking employees to do part of his job (he did not know I was fluent in Spanish). This does not mean that this always happens. Just be careful. 
 
Here are some tips that could be followed to ensure a successful training:
 
  • The environment in which the training/meeting is delivered is as important as the training itself. When possible, the training session should be conducted in a clean, well-furnished conference room. A nice, clean, and comfortable environment makes the participants more receptive to learning.
  • Provide ethnic food, ethnic desserts or pizza along with non-alcoholic cold beverages.
  • Schedule extra help to temporarily replace the workers who are being trained. Do not rush workers into finishing the training session. It might be a good opportunity for the owner to fill in for the workers in doing some tasks. I had the experience to work with a dairy owner who, on the day of the training session, teamed with other members of his family and milked for a couple of hours while his milkers were attending a training session. By doing this, he showed his employees that he respected their jobs and that he was willing to step in their shoes and get the job done while they were learning.
  • Achieve trust by arriving early and scheduling some time to talk to the workers, either individually or in small groups. Show sincere interest in your audience. Ask Hispanic workers about their families. Family ties are very important in the Hispanic culture, and the workers will appreciate it when you ask about their families.
  • Allow informal conversation among trainees before the training session starts.
  • Make clear prior to starting that any person can ask ANY question he or she wants. Make sure to stress to them that there is no such thing as a “stupid” question. 
  • Avoid staring in your trainees’ eyes without smiling. Hispanics find too much eye contact to be intimidating and a sign of disapproval. Avoiding complete eye contact could signal, however, a lack of confidence.
  • Expressing satisfaction and appreciation for a job well done is THE tool to motivate your audience. 
  • A receptive audience is the key for a successful training session. Be truthful, however, in your comments; otherwise you’ll appear to be manipulative. 
  • Begin by clearly defining the objective of your presentation. What will the trainees have learned after the session is completed?
  • Use an attention-getting statement or question to capture the attention of the participants. For example, ask them if they would like to participate in the success of the dairy where they are working or explain to them how important their job is for the success of the dairy.
  • It is important to capture the attention of the participants so they can remember for a longer time the information you are presenting to them. People forget 38 % of a presentation in two days, 65 % in eight days, and 75 % in 30 days. Make your presentation fun, by including visual aids, jokes, funny pictures etc.
  • Base your presentation on sound science.
  • Do not overwhelm your audience with excessive information. 
  • Do not cover more than six key points in one session.
  • Make sure you are verbally explaining any written material being presented.
  • Clearly explain to employees WHY they must follow a certain procedure.
  • Involve your audience in the presentation by asking questions to make sure they understand you.
  • If Spanish is not your native language, do not be scared. Hispanic workers appreciate the fact that you are doing your best to communicate with them in their native language.
  • Learn how to read the faces of the people you are training. Many times you can feel whether your audience has questions. If you feel there is something they do not understand, STOP and repeat the explanation.
  • Do not single out the performance of one worker by criticizing him/her.
  • Be sensitive to the body language of your audience. When you notice that they are losing interest, stop and give them a break.
  • End your presentation by reiterating and reinforcing a maximum of four to six key points that you would like the participants to remember.
  • Ask four to five questions to make sure they understood the key points of the session.
  • Allow enough time for the trainees to ask questions.
  • Listen with an open mind to the employees’ suggestions and concerns. They could help you identify weakness areas on the dairy.
 
Dr. Mireille Chahine is Associate Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist in the Animal and Veterinary Science Department at the University of Idaho in Twin Falls. Contact her at 208-736-3609 or mchahine@uidaho.edu.
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