I’ve been working this week on building an exercise or demonstration of how to do on-the-job training. What I came up with, is using the example of how to teach someone to make the perfect fried egg. There are a number of reasons why I think this example works well. First, there actually is a standard for how to fry an egg. If you went to any Michelin star restaurant, they all would describe the standard in the same way. There is a certain way a perfect fried egg looks, tastes and feels. There is also an absolute safety standard for a fried egg. You can’t serve raw or partially cooked eggs.
Second, this is something that has a lot of technique and takes practice. Learning how to properly crack and drop an egg, getting the temperature of the pan right, gas versus electric stoves, etc. are all things that take practice. For example, if the temperature in the pan isn’t right the egg will burn or cook unevenly.
With this background, you have a lot of choices of how you are going to teach cooking the perfect fried egg. I don’t think giving out a written description or an SOP is going to be enough. Let’s test this assumption. Here are the directions for 1 fried egg sunny side up.
- Use an 8″ Tephlon or cast iron pan.
- Heat the pan on a medium heat.
- Heat 1/3 tsp of butter or oil until it just starts to bubble.
- Crack one egg into the center of the pan.
- Reduce heat to low.
- Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the white is fully cooked.
- Season to taste.
- Remove with a spatula and put on a plate.
Okay, now go try that and see how you’ve done. I would bet on anyone’s first try, we are going to get a lot of broken yokes, burnt edges, and uncooked whites. Some will have given up and made their eggs over easy. (flip them over to cook the whites).
What’s missing is being able to see what a perfect egg looks like, watching how it’s done and getting practice with coaching. It’s even missing a demonstration of what a perfect egg should taste like a feel like. I’m not sure how many times you need to practice frying an egg to get it right, but I’m sure it’s more than 1.
I’ve assessed a lot of classroom training over the years for things like sales training. It’s rather common for someone to teach a sales skill and then practice it with one or two role plays. Then they wonder why no one can use that skill on the job.
How about a nice video. Now that you’re hungry. Let’s cook a steak. After watching Gordon Ramsay show you how, do you think you can duplicate what he’s showing you?
Well I think this can make an interesting demo and get the point across about on-the-job training.