“TIPS” For Training

In this training methodology, TIPS stands for: Teach, Illustrate, Practice, Simulate (job function). The goal is to go from zero grounding to fluency without compromising quality as quickly as possible.

With all the latest and greatest training technologies, methodologies, and nuances out there—from variations of brain-based learning to generational characteristic linking—effective training still boils down to a simple process. That is, getting to the “do” as quickly as possible. I’ve reviewed and have regrettably implemented many training curricula that unfortunately posture and postpone this concept far too long.

When you strip away the dogma of these “latest and greatest” training technologies and seek to capture the essence of effective training, you end up with a basic yet effective outcome: Learn it, practice it with guidance, then turn the desired behavior into habit. If you think about it, training is in our DNA. It is firmly established in the foundation of what makes us human beings. If you really want to track down the origin of when training began, you could say it began when Neanderthal dad showed Neanderthal son how to kill Neanderthal wildebeest.

Today, this process can be summed up in three sentences:

  1. Here’s what we’re doing.
  2. Let me show you how to do it with some help.
  3. Now you do it.

It’s the “now you do it” part that is the most important. That’s when the training rubber hits the road. Unfortunately, in this advanced world of new training techniques and technologies, we are still missing this concept. Curricula today still stall the start of the “doing” part. They start out with lecture, then PowerPoint, then a computer-guided demo, then some type of job function example, then a knowledge check, all without having the participants roll up their sleeves and dive in. This significantly delays the journey from zero grounding in the subject matter to performance fluency.


Out of this frustration, the TIPS training methodology was born. TIPS stands for:

  • Teach
  • Illustrate
  • Practice
  • Simulate (job function)

The goal is to go from zero grounding to fluency without compromising quality as quickly as possible. All components of my curricula employ this methodology, and the results have demonstrated a reduction of training time (without compromising quality) by 35 percent.

Teach: You must have some lecture to ensure subject grounding and knowledge transfer. This is the “Here’s what we’re doing” part. The goal is to get through this part quickly. Participants do not need to have full command during this stage. They need to have a base understanding, with the assumption that fluency will come in the other sections of the methodology. Although I’m belaboring the obvious here, the term, “lecture,” does not mean being a “talking head” resulting in disengaged participants. The expectation is that all of the training “bells and whistles” that are used to enlist fun, excitement, and adult learning-based engagement are present.

Illustrate: Once you have transferred some basic knowledge, then you “illustrate.” This is the “Let me show you” part. This is critical in reinforcing what was just taught. This is when some of the light bulbs go off. “OK, now I see…Ahhh, so that’s how you do it…I got it.” Again, the goal is to move through this section rapidly. Many trainers spend way too much time in this area because they haven’t established the “doing” as the training priority. In fact, many trainers stop at this point and move to the next topic. Trainers may have some “hands-on” at a mid-point or the end of the training, but typically it’s a small percentage of training time.

Practice: This is when the real training begins. This is where desired behavior is galvanized. This is the “Now you do it” part. When a training class enters this “doing” stage of training, the results are exponential. Since you only have so much training time, the key is to get to this stage and the next as quickly as possible. In fact, if you were to ratio these four sections, Teach and Illustrate should take up about 20 to 25 percent of the training time…tops! Practice and Simulation should take up the remaining 75 to 80 percent.

Simulate: This is the move from practicing in a training environment to simulating actual work conditions, situations, and sometimes unfortunate realities. Less tenured trainers do not see much distinction between the Practice and the Simulation part. In fact, some believe that practice is simulating job function. This is far from the truth. Simulating job performance in job conditions involves stress, distractions, “curve balls,” emotionally disturbing scenarios, sweaty palms, performance efficiency, and performance endurance. The more you can create realistic conditions in the classroom, the more prepared participants are for the actual job. In a service-oriented call center, for example, this would involve exposing participants to irate customers, impatient customers with multiple issues, customers who do a lousy job articulating their points, etc. Trainers must put on their acting caps to ensure the quality of these simulations is where it needs to be.

Another downfall trainers demonstrate is not staying true to the simulation. Less experienced trainers want to step in and “save” the participant at the first sign of struggle or discomfort. Again, the purpose is to simulate the actual job condition…warts and all. Participants are not thrilled about having to go “through the fire” in training but later are thankful they did once they hit the floor.

The TIPS training methodology truly mirrors how humans are meant to learn a skill. Knowledge transfer is only a small section of the road to performance fluency. There must be a training strategy that gets to the “doing” part as quickly as possible. By correctly incorporating the TIPS process, learners gain a significant advantage in the quest to become high performers in their organizations in a much shorter period of time.

J. Brooke Hoover is a vice president in the HR Organizational Performance department of Alorica, Inc., a customer relationship management (CRM) and business process outsourcing (BPO) customer service solution company. Hoover has been in training and development and leadership training for more than 30 years, working for companies such as MCI telecommunications, Nielsen TV ratings, and Express Scripts. He currently is working to develop new and innovative coaching solutions to meet today’s difficult operational floor environments in the contact center industry.