Training employees can eat up a lot of resources—time and money. But, this doesn’t have to be the case. One tactic many companies use to great effect is to leverage existing employees to teach their colleagues, whether those colleagues are new to the organization or have been around a while but could benefit from some additional knowledge.
It’s a technique Google has used for years. Here are a few reasons having your employees teach each other makes great sense.
The Teacher Will Retain More Knowledge
Most of us have heard the line about how we retain 10% of what we read and 90% of what we teach others. Well, there are a few other levels in the “learning pyramid” as well—30% of what we have demonstrated to us, 75% of what we practice doing, etc.,—but it’s that 90% retention that comes from teaching others that is key here. Teaching others what they know will help your teacher-employees reinforce their own knowledge.
Designating subject matter experts (SMEs) can provide multiple benefits. For one, it serves to identify individuals whom others can go to when they have specific, specialized questions.
Additionally, employees gain prestige and self-confidence by being designated as an SME, which can boost motivation and organizational commitment.
One of the challenges with being an SME is the potential of over-reliance of others on their expertise; other staff members may turn to SMEs too often, impacting their productivity and, potentially, job satisfaction.
If serving as an SME is an employee’s sole responsibility, this might not be a big issue. But most SMEs have other responsibilities as well. Encouraging SMEs to educate, or train, others can empower a greater number of employees to serve in these roles.
One of the big fears of any company is having a trusted expert leave the organization, taking his or her knowledge elsewhere. By having your experts teach others, that knowledge gets spread around, providing built-in redundancy to help prepare for potential turnover.
Training doesn’t have to be a resource-intensive process. By leveraging the existing knowledge of your employees, you can provide benefits to both teachers and students as well as to the organization as a whole.
Who are your SMEs? What wisdom could they share with others that could help you build a solid foundation of knowledge?