A Proper Education

By Fletcher, Charlie | Independent Banker, October 1997 | Go to article overview
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A Proper Education

Fletcher, Charlie, Independent Banker

Match the right training options to your needs and goals

Employee education is an essential part of keeping your community bank's edge sharp, but with so many training options to choose from, how can you make sure you're using your education dollars wisely?

One of the most important factors determining the success of an employee training program is choosing the correct delivery system. Not only are some types of training systems better suited for some topics, but some are better suited for certain types of personalities. The secret to training success is to get all of the factors to match.

In the banking environment there are two basic types of material that all employees are expected to understand: lists of rules; regulations and services; and customer service techniques. Memorizing rules and regulations requires completely different techniques than learning how to gracefully interact with people.

Boob Tube Connected

Training with videotapes is one of the most popular ways to deliver information to bank employees. Not only are videos relatively inexpensive, but employees don't have to leave the bank to watch them, which can help alleviate concerns about time usage. "The biggest problem is time management: finding the time to send people to training and still operate a small bank," says Bill Knox, vice president of the $90 million-asset Bank of Whitman in Colfax, Wash.

Videos can also be cost effective. "I think videos are best suited as a delivery medium for information about theory," remarks Greg Martinson, IBAA's director of education. One of the big advantages to using videos, he says, is that they can be used over and over again, thereby lowering their effective cost per employee.

However, the biggest limitation to the videotape medium is that students can't ask questions during the presentation. "The video tapes are inexpensive; the problem is they're boring," notes Randy Snider, president of Community Bank of Parkersburg, W.Va., which has $84 million in assets.

Many studies on the effectiveness of education techniques have shown that if students are bored during training, they don't retain the material as well as when the presentation is stimulating. One method used by some bankers to overcome this problem is to use a facilitator in concert with the video. The facilitator allows students to watch a portion of the video presentation and then stops the tape to give them time to ask questions, discuss the material and practice skills learned on the tape.

Many bank educators use videos as a method for training employees on compliance issues. However, bankers frequently combine video instruction with the skills of a facilitator when training employees in customer service techniques.

PC Learning

Computer-based training is a new method that is slowly gaining acceptance in the banking community. Although many are reluctant to adopt this new method, some bankers are finding that this hightech delivery method has strong potential for helping employees to memorize regulations.

One of the big advantages of computer-based training is that it gets the student actively involved in the training process, says Martinson. "There's a larger carryover because of the interactive nature of the programs."

"There are so many well done computer-based training programs that employees have a better understanding of the material than they do with a video," he continues.

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