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How to Choose a Driver Training Program: Typical Challenges

Posted by Mark G. Gardner on August 16, 2018 in the category Training, Driver Finishing School

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This article serves as Part 3 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.

This is the third installment of the series. If you missed parts one or two, the links are above for the “Learning Domains” and “Desired Outcomes” installments.

Typical Challenges

During the past 28 years, we’ve created thousands of instructional designs. More than half of them were focused on transportation safety. However, we’ve also created curricula for a wide range of industries and jobs such as bank tellers, orthopedic surgeons, chemists, nuclear physicists, waste haulers, airport security, retail, insurance, manufacturing and just about every other occupational role you can imagine.

Along the way, we’ve learned a thing or two by working with some of the world’s largest companies. It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, sometimes we had to learn things the hard way. We’ve made mistakes, we’ve blown budgets, we’ve delivered curricula that either wasn’t used or didn’t work well. How’s that for complete honesty?

We’ve also had a lot of success. In fact, we have dozens of signed customer testimonials confirming that our curricula have led to millions of dollars of savings, significant sales growth, improved customer service and most importantly (as far as we’re concerned) the elimination of employee fatalities. Looking back, I’d have to say we won some, we lost some and some were called on account of rain.

As mentioned in the preceding unit, we’re focused on helping our client achieve organizational outcomes. And that’s a high standard. To get there, our designs have to be effective in every way. But, we always face some challenges. Some of the challenges are simple and some are insurmountable.

Top 9 Challenges Over the Years:

  1. Geography: “Our employees work at 580 different locations. We can’t bring them together.”
  2. Logistics: “Our drivers are on the road and can’t attend a workshop.”
  3. Language: “We need it in 12 languages.”
  4. Stupid people: “Our low wage employees aren’t very sharp.”
  5. Technology: “We’re still using VHS tape players.” Or, “we don’t have high-speed Internet.”
  6. Instructors: “We don’t have instructors.”
  7. Budgets: “We don’t have much money to spend, but we sure need a lot of training.”
  8. Time: “We need to get people to work. Give them 100 hours of training in a week.”
  9. Turnover: “We have 100% turnover. Make it fast, low cost and effective.”

Evolving Training Delivery

Until recently, traditional corporate training has been a combination of classroom-based delivery and on-the-job training. Classroom-based instruction harkens back to our secondary school system. The instructor stood in front of the room and lectured. Hopefully, the employees paid attention and left the room with newfound knowledge. Over the years, we’ve seen the supporting media used in classroom instruction evolve through several different technologies:

  • Filmstrips & 35mm slides
  • Transparencies
  • 16mm films
  • VHS tapes
  • Laser disks
  • CDi
  • CD-ROM
  • PowerPoint
  • Streaming media
  • Self-directed courses
  • Virtual Reality

We’ve built curricula using every one of these technologies. Ironically, the one constant has been printed collateral. We still find ourselves in 2018 killing trees to make facilitator guides, study guides and posters to hang on the wall.

Most skills-based training has been, and still is, delivered by an experienced employee showing a new or junior employee how to do the job. It’s ubiquitous. We call it on-the-job training (OJT). Go to any pizza shop, oil change service or construction company and you can see it in action. People learn skills by watching someone else and then copying their behavior. Most OJT is informal and unstructured.

A Blended Approach

Now, let’s go back to our core question. What’s the best way to train professional drivers? Given the challenges you face, many mentioned above, we recommend a blended approach to learning using various delivery methods.

For knowledge-based learning, we strongly recommend the use of online self-directed courses that a professional driver can view on a mobile device.

For skills-based learning, we recommend experiential training under the direction of a competent, certified instructor. This is how we teach LLLC Defensive Driving and CDL Finishing School.

Of course, moments after the driver leaves the classroom and gets back in the truck, they begin to forget. The only way you can ensure your drivers maintain the necessary knowledge and skills is to make sure that you make your training sticky. We do this through Online Safety Tune-Ups. These two-minute videos are delivered over our Learning Management System to drivers’ mobile devices. Each Safety Tune-Up is followed by a few questions to confirm that the driver completed the tune-up and understands the information.

If you want to improve organizational performance, have fewer accidents, more on-time deliveries, lower driver turnover and happier customers, you’ll need to overcome these challenges. We know how to do it. We’re here to help you solve the driver problem. If you’d like better results, download this overview of our blended approach to training professional drivers.

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