Building Flawless Training
October 06, 2017 Matthew Cole
Like so many individuals I had to pay my way through college. One way to help off-set the cost was through a scholarship I earned from the Theatre Department that focused on managing the work crews, tool room and stage. In my head, I was an actor with all this talent and here I am with these tools and the stage to manage. Turns out, in this experience I learned a real passion of mine. I really love tools and the ability to create from various materials, but my favorite is to build with wood. So many possibilities!
I later took set design classes which furthered my desire to build. I now build all sorts of things from simple pieces of furniture to much larger construction projects. In comparison, I found more value today in what I learned on the set than in acting. Don’t get me wrong I loved the spotlight and the ability to perform, but not nearly as much as I now enjoy building.
I am currently building my wife a breakfast table.
- Plan – Before getting any of the tools out, we spent several discussions on what she wanted and what that could look like. We discussed the type of wood to use, what fasteners would look best, what paint will be applied, and even how to apply the paint. We did more talking about a table than it will take to build it.
In training, we spend countless hours building curriculam, agendas and learning activities. If the facilitator does not know how to use the plan then all that time and money is wasted. The team will never perform as intended without the proper foundation. We have to teach our trainers how to facilitate and how to use the plan. We need to ensure they understand the “why” in each module. If we are not obtaining their buy in they will adjust the plan to be more comfortable for their delivery style.
In both construction and in classes I have seen many small adjustments derail the goal for the end result. If I start changing the size of a board used in the middle of building the table then the whole table will be affected and possibly no longer meet the desired goal for the table. It will definitely force additional changes to be met in order to allow all the pieces to fit. As I progress something always ends up not fitting and I must make more changes. Before I am finally done, the project no longer looks and feels like the original design.
- Tools – I have many different types of tools. Some power tools and others are used manually. Each tool has its own specific use. I have several types of saws, sanders and wood shaving tools. Each one is designed to make the task easier, more effective and shape the end product uniquely. Some tools have overlapping capabilities, like they may all cut a board but maybe not the best tool to cut with. Some tools allow you to cut straight while others allow you to change direction easily. If I were to use a tool that allows for changing direction to make a straight cut it would be possible that the cut will not be as straight as designed. All of my tools are useless sitting in the shop; they are only great tools in the right hands.
In the same way, having the right tools and knowing how to use them is key in delivering a message. We easily make mistakes when not properly trained in how our tools enhance the learning experience. In those mistakes, we can lose our audience. When the audience is not engaged we are now fighting an uphill battle to drive a transfer of knowledge. In most cases we drastically change our ability to teach. Sometimes, due to a lack of understanding we may waste valuable training time or even worse break a tool due to misuse. We buy tools that are designed to build on the experience for our team. We should take the extra time to show them how they are to be used.
I am sure you can imagine not having the right type of saw to make the proper cuts will drastically change the output. I did not always have nice tools but I bought the basic tools that would enable me to do the job that I was trying to accomplish. In each project, I learned how to make one tool do more than it was intended to accomplish. As I built my skills, I also added more tools to be more effective. Work with what you have to the best of your ability and add more training tools when you can.
- Relationship – When it comes time to build, my understanding of how the wood needs to intersect and where it should be utilized will determine if I create a nice, strong table. I know this is pushing the word “relationship” a little but the idea is really the same. When I know how to work with the wood or I know how to work with people it is all relationships. Also keep in mind, my relationship with my wife can change based on the finished product. My ability to work with both my wife and the wood ensure that I am successful.
Likewise, in training, every trainer should be ready to build a relationship with the class and on an individual basis. This will set the foundation for how the group will interact. Your relationship can be built on several components but one that the audience is counting on is for the trainer to be a SME (Subject Matter Expert). As the SME the audience will develop confidence in doing the job based on your shared experiences and best practices to follow. You will also need to know how to build trust by interacting with integrity.
The class wants to believe in the trainer and count on them to provide insight on how to best do the role. They need the trainer to bridge the gap from classroom work to production. A trainer can’t be successful without knowing the individuals they are working with.
Taking time to know the plan, how to use your tools, and building relationships will allow you to be successful. By teaching your trainers how to be successful you will see an easier knowledge transfer. Practice makes perfect so practice, practice, practice.