By William Graham
Training employees often takes place when;
the cost of doing the work appears to high, profits are falling
material is being damaged
callbacks are too common
customer complaints are on the rise
employees seem disgruntled
new equipment is being installed
Several years ago I participated in a study with training managers of several large companies. The results of the interviews, testing, training, incident and accident records revealed some disturbing figures.
Over 30% of people in trades did not have the ability, mechanical dexterity or aptitudes for the skill they had selected. Not to suggest that these individuals had a lower IQ. In many cases it was quite the contrary and the skill they selected was not challenging them sufficiently. The final result was that these individuals were not as good at their skill as they and their employer wished and were unhappy. They were the employees with the high absentee and injury rate as well as being the group more likely to find occasions to exercise the company grievance procedures. For that reason it is important that employees are suited to the job they are doing and have the ability to be successful at whatever the task is. Management must recognize the strong skills of the employee and develop these. Periodic training should be part of the company management plan for all employees. It has been said the training costs money, but ignorance is more costly.
Before we do anything we should define exactly tasks the employees does. Not what they would like to do or what they do at another plant but exactly what this employee does at this point in time at this plant. Then it is important to define the job elements of each task. Then define how well these elements have to be performed. At this point we have a tool to properly evaluate the skills and ability of the employee and define the training needs. In reality, most managers and supervisors don’t think they have the time or need to go into this detail. However, with the cost of training programs and the cost of lost productivity, damaged equipment and injuries, a manager must take on this responsibility, if indeed the person is to call themselves a manager.
Training is often perceived as the end all solution. The employee returns to work and all the problems are solved. Right, in an ideal world this might be so. I firmly believe in the need for training and realize the costs of training to a company and also the cost of a company not participating in training for their workforce. However, training programs must be designed and implemented in an orderly manner if they are to be effective.
First and foremost there must be a legitimate training need. People are often sent on courses as a gig or reward for something they did or management didn’t do. Management and the worker must agree there is a training need. Both sides should discuss this aspect and agree on what performance change to expect at the end of the training. Will new skills be learned? To what level, and how can they be measured. The management role of monitoring and supporting the training objectives is extremely important when the employee returns. The supervisor must also fill the role of job coach.
Management also must work with the training group to define training needs, support training objectives, and be aware of instructional methods. Management must assume some responsibility for the training outcome
A successful training program consists of the following steps;
Instructor prepares themselves and the learner as to what is being covered in the program. Both sides should agree on the expected outcome and the part each must play to accomplish this.
Instruction should follow along this method.
Present the procedure — Tell the student what you are doing step by step and do it. Have demo or actual parts and demonstrate to the student that it can be done. Needless to say the instructor should have the wisdom to practice in advance to be sure the demo will work as planned. It is important for the learner to learn it properly if possible. The expression “He learn best what he learn first” certainly applies to all training programs.
Next, have the learner do the procedure or task. It is the only way of knowing if they know how to do it. Besides, the person has a feeling of accomplishment when they complete the task. And this also tells the instructor what areas need re-instructing.
If there are errors the instructor should demonstrate those parts again.
Then have the learner repeat the procedure until it is completed without error
Follow up with periodic checks during the program.
The next phase of the successful training program takes place on the job.
The immediate supervisor must recognize the accomplishments, compliment the student on meeting the goals and expect a tangible result from these new skills, whether it is that the tasks are done more error free, in less time or whatever applies in the circumstance.