What would happen if you sprung a pop quiz on your small business team? Maybe you are about to announce a new product or service and you want to be sure everybody is up to speed. You may work in a highly regulated industry where the rules and regulations change frequently and your staff has to be up to date. Or maybe you have a company policy on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and you want be sure everyone understands the dos and don’ts. In all cases, you can’t afford to have someone make a mistake. A test could tell you who needs to hit the books.
A pop quiz may be met with less than enthusiasm, but it turns out that tests are not a waste of time, contrary to what many think. In the Inc. article “Want Smarter Employees? Quiz Them,” corporate HR specialist, Suzanne Lucas, points out that tests actually help us learn and this applies not only to students but also to office workers. A recent study published by the American Psychological Association bears this out,
The study conducted by Rice University in Houston found that “people appear to lean more when tested on material, rather than simply rereading or restudying the information.” The experiment included 60 college students, age 18 to 25; 60 younger adults, age 18 to 25; and 60 older adults, age 55 to 65, either attending school or living in the Houston area.
Study results indicated that students and adults in both age groups improved their retention of new information — as evidenced by taking a more difficult follow-up test — if they were tested on the material and received feedback, rather than just restudying the materials.
Make training a priority
The Rice University study makes a case for using tests to help your team learn new information or to master new skills. Testing, however, speaks to the bigger issue of ongoing team training at your small business.
I addressed this in “Training your small business team within you budget.” pointing to several areas where you can cost effectively keep an ongoing training effort going to ensure employees have the required knowledge and skills to support business:
- Join associations: Take advantage of their training programs, seminars and conferences as well as online training.
- Turn your team into trainers: If someone in your organization has expert knowledge along with strong communication and interaction skills, make them the trainers.
- Brown bag lunches: Invite in professionals from your industry to a brown bag lunch to talk to your group.
- Encourage mentoring: Provide the less experienced employees with a mentor from within the organization to help them develop the skills and knowledge to advance professionally.
With class in session, you might want to throw in a quiz – formal or informal – to see how much information is retained and understood. Just don’t expect anyone to leave an apple on your desk.