What are some of the elements that make a training organization great?
After a career of training in nuclear power, the transmission industry, the military and commercial adult education, here’s some thoughts on that question.
Step 1 – Get Aligned With & Responsive to the Needs of the Line Organization
The best training organizations are closely aligned with the line, actively work together to solve problems and achieve their goals.
Understanding their problems and using training creatively to help people improve their knowledge and skills is routine business.
They don’t use the training process as an obstacle to deliver what’s needed (you’ll have to fill out all these forms before we can even start) or offer the solution too late (it will be 6 months before we finish the needs analysis).
After training, workers come back to the shop smarter, perform better, and can do new tasks. It adds value, and that encourages the line to be active and engaged in training. They also analyze the challenges and know when training isn’t the answer.
Step 2 – Create Sound Processes That Are Clear & Easy to Use
In the nuclear industry we all have training processes that are similar, but it’s how the organization executes them that makes the difference.
When executed consistently well, the outputs produce the best decisions and training products that make the workforce better.
Experience shows that organizations that are not attentive to their processes eventually experience problems that take away from delivering impactful training solutions to their customers.
Step 3 – Combine Great Self-Evaluation & a Willingness to Continuously Improve
This takes time, resources to prepare and execute well.
But it needs to be routine, ongoing, and result in finding gaps and worthwhile improvements.
Routine observations of processes in action (not just the delivery of training), assessments, benchmarking and engagement with the rest of your industry all contribute to recognizing where you can do better and closing the gap.
In the long run, doing this well will enable training to continually add value to your organization.
Step 4 – Leadership by Example
Follow me! Professional trainers who deliver great training and model the best performance.
The U.S. Army infantry school at Fort Benning Georgia has a simple motto – “Follow me!”
Young recruits start boot camp with all kinds of backgrounds, personalities, and physical abilities.
Yet after 12 weeks, they all look alike, march together as one, are in great physical condition, and have acquired the technical skills to win in combat.
This happens because their trainers, the drill sergeants, model the behaviors, skills and attitudes the recruits need to be successful.
The sergeants are credible, they know their stuff, and don’t compromise on what they expect. The recruits look up to them and often want to be like their drill sergeant someday.
The drill sergeants can rightfully point to the patch on their shoulder and say “Follow Me!”
When you have trainers that are committed to the success of their students and model the behaviors and skills we expect so that new employees or experienced workers look up to and respect their trainers, you’ve got a great training organization.