Who you train, what you teach and how you teach it depends on:
- the Task,
- on the Individual being trained and
So let us start with the task. A complex task requires some tuition. The leap from no knowledge to knowledgeable is large and difficult to undertake on your own.
Think of learning a foreign language; know nothing and for most of us it would remain impenetrable for some time. Provide tuition to achieve basic understanding and progress would improve.
You could learn a simple task by trial and error. The difference between no knowledge to knowledgeable is no longer a quantum leap and the number of trial and error steps needed to progress smaller.
Learning style, a preference for being taught or learning on your own, depends on the individual, my second condition for training.
Learning on your own depends on an enquiring mind, courage to try different things and not worry about failure.
In fact these people will better remember the solution to a problem if they find it out for themselves rather than being taught.
I am certainly in this group, much preferring finding things out for myself by reading, research and trial and error. Frequently I find some parts of formal training inappropriate for my needs and therefore boring or more advanced than I am ready for therefore incomprehensible.
This, the last of my conditions of training is probably the most important.
As I said, I prefer to learn by trial and error but if the task I was told to perform was bomb disposal I would demand the best training the British armed forces could provide.
In other words, importance of training is linked to the consequence of failure. If failure to satisfactorily undertake a task resulted in the potential of injury or death you have three things to consider.
- Is the knowledge base (syllabus, course notes, literature etc.) forming the training appropriate?
- Will the method and quality of delivery make information understandable?
- Is the person you are training receptive and/or capable of comprehending both the material and the importance of the knowledge?
Points one and two above are fairly straight forward. If you are outsourcing your training these questions become; is it the right course and will the course provider make it interesting and understandable?
Item 3 above is a bit more subjective. This becomes a balance between the severity of the consequence of failure and the intelligence and aptitude of the person undertaking the task.
High risk tasks
But often you can’t give a high risk task to sufficiently intelligent personnel. So there is a mismatch and if there is a mismatch you have a problem.
In a high risk situation can you afford to hope for the best? Unfortunately many people do without realising it. Often the quality of training providers, even those supposedly regulated by external bodies is so poor candidates can receive a pass mark with very little knowledge of the subject.
If you are alert to the possibility that training is only partially successful due to the limitations of the system and the personnel being trained you can take steps to mitigate the risk.
A good solution is to provide constant supervision of the task as an extra layer of control. Think again about my analogy of learning a foreign language. You can be taught the basics of a language fairly easily but if it is important or complex then a professional Translator would come in very handy.
Have you ever felt vulnerable in high risk situations… that perhaps, just perhaps you should do more?
Share your thoughts.