Every day people try to sell me things I don’t want, and to inform me about things I don’t need. It even happens in the checkout line; “Did you find everything you need sir?” “Yes, just these two bolts and the AAA batteries”. I see that you are not a part of membership rewards program, may I please take you on a twenty minute educational experience that will open your mind to the possibilities of tremendous savings on your future purchase of bolts and batteries?” No, Thank you, I understand I am throwing money away but I’d rather not know that right now”. We have access to an unprecedented amount of information, so when I want to know something I am confident that an answer (not necessarily the right answer) is only a google away. When, and only when, I want the information I will be in a teachable moment. So, it must be a key in making your training investment impactful that you create teachable moments for your team.
When designing or improving a training program for an organization I make certain that the education is marked by four characteristics: Applicability, Adaptability, Accessibility, and Accountability. If these are satisfied I see training knowledge stick and get applied with bottom-line results.
Applicability: the learner must see how the training will improve their experience and productivity when it is applied.
Adaptability: The training must be adapted to accommodate the needs of the learner and the organization. For example, delivery may originally occur in large groups but subsequent hires may receive the training through video or one on one instruction.
Accessibility: Smaller training modules and use of online resources allow for training to be assigned when needs arise. For example, a person newly promoted to leadership would benefit from a timely online explanation of How to Read Financial Statements.
Accountability: There must be an opportunity for the trainee to demonstrate the ability to apply the knowledge gained. This cements the learning and increases the likelihood that the training investment will result in bottom line improvement.
Before you can create a teachable moment, and hopefully a habit of being teachable, you must make your expectations clear. This is worth some whiteboard time to capture the essentials for your company and department. One way to do this is to list the practices, policies, procedures, knowledge and skills that would be required if you were open a new location and build an even better version of your department. This will leave you with an outline of basic training for your team.
Once you have an outline of the training everyone will need it is helpful to look at the individuals involved and to make a development plan that will enhance their strengths, keep them engaged and growing. When areas of need or interest are identified I think about the most adaptive way for the individual to learn. In some cases an internal mentor or a coach will suit best, in others a workshop or online resource will meet the need.
With the learning objectives identified I will move on to ensure that my training investment of time and money will bring the benefits I expect. I must be sure that the workshop, coaching, or e-learning experience will occur in a teachable moment. To do this the learner must understand the connection between the material to be learned and the ROI in the facility. One way to do this is to create a practice whereby each person participating in training will make a presentation upon return to the appropriate supervisor and peers. The presentation A) summarizes the course content. B) Focuses on the pertinent concepts and practices to be applied. C) Suggests an action plan for discussion and decision by the group. Of course when training is conducted in house the application exercises may be built into the learning activities. When online resources are utilized this approach may be adapted to a one on one meeting with a supervisor. The key is that the learner be expected to demonstrate the ability to understand and apply the training they have completed.
Two things happen when this teachable moment approach is used. First, the learner stops asking, “Will this be on the test” and begins to listen like a teacher. They know they will be expected to summarize and apply and useful material. The second aspect is that it helps to overcome the resistance when the learner returns to the home plant by discussing the key lessons and testing their value in key processes. I have seen this approach work with repeated success, as it is a built in requirement of the in-person Production Supervision Training we deliver for AICC. Many an old guard supervisor has come with the expectation of gathering a few nuggets from a workshop while they are enjoying an all expenses paid road trip. They have found that they also receive a comprehensive overview of supervision best practices and an action plan to apply the knowledge gained in a key area of need. An ancillary benefit of any in person training is the peer support they gain learning from the problems, solutions and experience of their peers from across the industry.
In another example of training being applicable, adaptable accessible and accountable consider a supervisor who has just received a grievance regarding their delivery of employee direction and feedback. This technically savvy but interpersonally challenged leader may benefit from another offering of AICCs Packaging University; Communication for Coaches. E-learning modules like this have built in testing and certificates that ensure attention and will facilitate your improvement discussion.
There are many resources available to supplement your training program. The FTA has an operator certification program for printers titled First. AICCs Packaging University is in a period of planned growth to include a complete packaging education from forest to customer, and from technical skills to leadership practices. Local colleges and High Schools will assist with everything from basic business math to GED completion and ESL training. Your expectations and follow through will ensure that you create teachable moments and get the return on training investments that you intend. Yes, people like me often resist being teachable. You can lead us to water, and no you cant make us drink, but you can feed us salt.