This article serves as Part 2 of 3 in a series on Choosing a Driver Training Program
We’re often asked to advise our clients on the best methodology for training truck drivers. To answer that question, we first need to explore three key dynamics.
Part one of this series described the four Learning Domains: affective, cognitive, behavioral and organizational. They happen in that order. Nothing can happen without affective learning. The student must first show interest. And skills can’t be learned without cognition. Finally, positive organizational outcomes can’t happen, unless we’ve changed the right employee behaviors.
So, learning domains align nicely with desired outcomes. What outcomes you’re trying to achieve? Desired outcomes vary. For example, the outcome may be as simple as a cover-your backside. That’s often the case with government-mandated training. Agencies make you teach your employees things like diversity awareness, sexual harassment or hazardous materials. But does anyone think these subjects will impact your bottom line? You have to do this training, but your expectations for outcomes are low.
Let’s go up a level. Sometimes, your employees have to understand certain subjects. For example, a sales representative may need product knowledge. She can’t sell until she knows your products features and benefits. She can’t stop a sales call and look up the information. She has to know what she’s talking about. Learning about your products and services is an example of knowledge-based learning. That may be the outcome you’re looking for.
Most corporate training is focused on developing skills. Our clients want their employees to behave in new and different ways. For instance, the customer service representative needs to know how to answer the phone on the first ring with a smile on her face. The truck driver needs to know how to perform a thorough pre-trip inspection before pulling out. The dispatcher needs to know how to show drivers respect and appreciation. These outcomes lead to better job performance.
Getting Results v. Covering Your Behind
Notice each of these behaviors began with the words “how to?” Skills are defined as how to do things. And they can only be learned by actually doing them. However, it’s impossible to learn a skill without first learning some bit of knowledge. And, as we said before, it’s impossible to learn any knowledge, without first being interested in the subject (affective).
By now you realize that learning outcomes are an outgrowth of learning domains. So let’s go back to the initial question. What outcomes are you trying to achieve? If it’s simply cover-your-backside, a memo, poster, short workshop or point and click web-based course will give you the evidence you need to prove that you provided your people with the “quote-unquote” training. This type of training doesn’t take long and doesn’t cost much. But, you get what you pay for. It doesn’t change any behaviors or make you more money.
If your desired outcome is the mastery of knowledge, you can use workshops, reading, studying, mentoring or professionally designed self-directed web-based courses.
If your desired outcome is new and different behaviors, you can provide experiential training. Be sure to include an opportunity for them to practice, make mistakes and achieve an active mastery. That’s a fancy term for performing a skill correctly 30 times in a row.
Moving the Needle
But wait! We said there was a fourth type of outcome: organizational outcomes. If this is the standard by which you’ll judge success, you have to make sure that the new and different behaviors actually move the needle on key performance indicators. Let’s go back to that truck driver performing a pre-trip inspection. If he does it right, you should have fewer breakdowns and more on-time deliveries. That should translate to better organizational outcomes.
Providing your employees with learning opportunities always takes time and money. And, the further up the learning curve you go the longer it takes and the more it costs. The cost of design and development of custom curricula or the purchase of generic materials is rarely more than 10 or 15% of your total spend. The lion’s share of your expense will be the labor hours required for your employees to learn new knowledge or to master new skills.
In the next chapter, we’ll explore some of the challenges common to the deployment of instructional designs in your business.
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