Does this sound familiar?
You are the Human Resource Manager of a mid-sized manufacturing company. Your boss walks into your office one morning and says, “We have a problem.” “We are losing money manufacturing our widgets and we need to fix it.” I want you to develop training for our assembly line team.” “They need to be faster.”
Now, I realize that not every boss employs this technique when assessing if they need training or not. Bear with me.
Designing an effective training curriculum is not as cut and dry as it sounds. Adult learning differs from children because adults:
- Learn to use new skills immediately (or close to it),
- Bring prior knowledge, both good and bad to training,
- Learn to make an impact on their personal or social situations and,
- Lack the time due to family, personal, or work commitments.
Because of this, a training curriculum needs to be developed in a way that engages learners while making the best use of their time. Training has to in ways, unwire prior thinking and help develop new habits.
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How do you create an active training curriculum that creates change in your organization?
What’s the problem?
“We have a problem.” “We are losing money manufacturing our widgets and we need to fix it.” I want you to develop training for our assembly line team.” “They need to be faster.” The words our panicked boss used when describing the problem to our frazzled Human Resource Manager. The Boss sees HIS problem – losing money. But, is that the core problem? And, can training fix it?
Many organizations see training as the simple solution to an issue. But, our Human Resource Manager may need to do some investigating. They may need to look beyond “scratching the surface” to gain a big picture understanding of why widget manufacturing income is down. A simple assessment of the situation will help to develop training that addresses the core issues of the widget assembly line.
The Human Resource Manager in our example might observe employees in their work environment to see their work process in action. Can the Human Resource Manager and Boss take an afternoon to observe the widget assembly line? Consider questions like:
- How does the assembly process flow?
- What does teamwork look like?
- What does the timing look like?
- What are external constraints?
For example, if you observe that workers cannot perform their role because the machine often breaks down; training is not the proper solution.
The Human Resource Manager and Boss may choose to discuss the issue with the widget assembly team. These interviews may shed light on inconsistencies in processes, which in this case, training would be a solution. If the widget assembly team can train using the same processes, that would result in an increase in speed.
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Who are your peeps?
The Human Resource Manager and Boss have to know their team. This will help them build a training program that maximizes the widget assembly team’s time. For example, if the widget assembly team works non-traditional hours, when is training going to be scheduled? Does the widget team have access to computers? Consider if your team will have to take time out of their schedule and if the training is being structured in such a way that it will be appropriate for their skill level. This will help structure learning activities that are appropriate for the delivery of your program.
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What’s the point?
Learning objectives tell the learner exactly what they will gain from training. Objectives will help you measure learner knowledge. Learning objectives measure knowledge – skills – attitudes.
Bloom’s Taxonomy or the “cognitive domain” (Morrison, et. al, 102) measures learner recall of a subject.
Example: List the steps to turn on the widget machine.
Another way to develop objectives is to use the “Psychomotor Domain,” which uses physical activities to develop skills.
Example: Create a new widget and score 8 out of 10 on the widget performance checklist.
The “Affective Domain” measures emotions or attitudes.
Example: Support practices that promote proper widget assembly.
Keep them awake and measure their success
35% of training managers have made learning engagement a priority (LinkedIn, 2020). When people think of adult learning, they think of lectures where students sit in a large lecture hall or room and listen to a teacher or professor talk while the learner takes notes and absorbs the content like a sponge. (Right, doesn’t happen).
Active learning allows learners to experiment and perfect what they learn. Again, rewiring the brain with new ways of thinking. Since our Human Resource Manager and Boss are conducting this training on the job, activities that align with the learning objectives might be:
- Working in teams to develop a list about how to turn on the widget machine.
- Practicing how to turn the widget machine on and off.
- Practicing in teams how to create a new widget, debrief, practice again to perfect the skill.
After the training class, the Human Resource Manager and Boss should have a plan to go back and observe the widget assembly team’s progress. They need to make sure the team is implementing the knowledge and skills they learned and practiced during their training course. Data collected over several months will show an improvement in the revenue and attitudes of the workers.
This is a lot of work for our Human Resource Manager and Boss to take on as they have other duties to carry out. That is where I can help. If you have an organizational challenge and you are not sure if a training course can help, contact me!
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- 2020 Linkedin Workplace Learning Report, LinkedIn, 2020
- Active Learning Techniques Versus Traditional Teaching Styles: Two Experiments from History and Political Science, 2000
- How Learning Works: 7 Researched-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, 2010
- Adult Learning: Linking Theroy and Practice, 2014
- Designing Effective Instruction, 2013