Benefits of Training your Technical Trainer First
On-the-job training happens across the country every day but how that training is delivered can greatly impact the effectiveness of the training. Companies often ask their most knowledgeable, experienced workers to be trainers since they possess the expertise which the trainee needs to learn to do the job. In the manufacturing, maintenance and technical service industries, these trainers are often called Technical Trainers.
But just because they have the experience, it doesn’t mean that these trainers have learned how to pass along that knowledge to others.
|“if (the employer’s technical trainers) are trained in effective job instruction, they will make a significant positive difference in how quickly and effectively the trainee is learning” – Pavel Wegrzyn, a mentor/coach with Work Based Learning Consortium
“We’ve seen in our programs with clients that their technical trainer, if they are trained in effective job instruction, they will make a significant positive difference in how quickly and effectively the trainee is learning,” says Pavel Wegrzyn, a mentor/coach with Work-Based Learning Consortium (WBLC).
A key aspect of WBLC’s hybrid approach to training and e-learning includes a train-the-trainer element called the Technical Training Effectiveness Workshop (TTEW), which provides rapid and effective training for the trainers onsite. It equips the employers’ most experienced skilled workers to be more effective in their training efforts.
“When we started thinking of creating the Technical Training Effectiveness Workshop, we asked companies if they felt a train-the-trainer program is needed or would be helpful,” says Rod Jones, Managing Director of WBLC. “Companies said there was nothing they could find that would help their trainers. Or, when there was a program, they’d have to send their trainers off-site for several weeks or send them to a long program where training trainers was only one element.”
There clearly was a need for a rapid, focused program on job instruction training and WBLC set out to address it.
Maximizing Adult Learning Effectiveness
WBLC recognizes how busy trainers are with their work. Leadership coach, facilitator and organizational development consultant Bob Nager worked with WBLC to develop the workshop which consists of two 90-minute virtual sessions. After completing the workshops, trainers are supported by weekly meetings with WBLC mentor coaches.
“Our approach has been to get employers to identify experts on the job, who have been doing their job for years, and then provide them with directly relevant knowledge and a proven time-tested process to be able to effectively do technical training,” says Bob Nager, who also has a Master’s degree in Adult Education, Workplace Learning and Change from the University of Toronto.
“Adults learn much better when they are self-directed and self-motivated,” says Nager. “People will retain knowledge much better when they understand ‘why’. If you just go by rote and teach people material, maybe they’ll learn it, but it won’t work as well as allowing them to understand the reasons why they’re doing things.”
The workshop also includes an experiential learning element where trainees watch a trainer perform a task they are about to learn. The trainees are asked to replicate the task and explain why they are doing what they’re doing – integrating it into their thinking. The examples used in the workshop are crafted by the WBLC Learning team and then put on video to demonstrate the trainer instructing a trainee in tasks that are relevant to the job sector using the program.
A Proven Methodology – from WWII to Modern Lean Manufacturing
Nager explains that the WBLC Technical Training Effectiveness Workshop is based on a methodology called Training Within Industry (TWI) that originated during the Second World War by the U.S. government. TWI has since been adopted by the Lean manufacturing sector.
“Not unlike the challenges facing manufacturers today, the war effort required bringing thousands of people into factories in a very short time, where many had no previous manufacturing experience,” explains Nager. “They recognized they needed to rapidly upskill workers quickly to deliver quality outcomes.”
“The TWI methodology is a tried and tested methodology adopted by the Lean manufacturing sector. We have lots of evidence that it really delivers great outcomes,” adds Nagar.
The training workshop provides technical trainers with an easy-to-use framework for performing their training work. Previous attendees have repeatedly shared with us that the WBLC framework gives them confidence in working with their trainees. The technical trainers also are taught to recognize that people learn differently and learn tips on how to factor that into their instructional approach.
After the workshop, the technical trainers have weekly calls with coach monitors to help them with challenges they’re encountering, discuss progress made, answer any questions related to the training methodology, as well as provide tips. These weekly calls are additional support for the trainers and also are used to evaluate the effectiveness of both the TTEW workshop and the trainers themselves.
Valuing the Training
The train-the-trainer workshop has advantages for both the company and the trainers. Sometimes, experienced workers are asked to train others in addition to their regular day-to-day duties. This can be a challenge.
“The Technical Training Effectiveness Workshop demonstrates that the company acknowledges that technical training is as part the trainer’s individual’s job,” adds Nagar. “Now there’s the acknowledgement from the employer. Trainers are pleased to have their training skill recognized, and really start to take pride in bringing their trainees along. It immediately increases their confidence.”
The effect is improved training results, a faster training process, reduced re-training time, less rework and scrap, and safer workers with fewer accidents. The result is faster payback for employers.
|“Knowledge obtained from WBLC’s Technical Training Effectiveness Workshop is an enduring asset…it continually pays dividends ” – Rod Jones, Managing Director of the Work Based Learning Consortium
“The good news is the knowledge obtained from the WBLC workshop is an enduring asset because once people know how to do it, as long as they apply it, it continually pays dividends” says Jones.
Trainers are set up for success and there are clear business results – newly hired employees become proficient more quickly and experienced skilled workers spend less time training.
“Companies need qualified people as there are significant skills shortages in some sectors and firms need people to be up to speed and trained quickly,” adds Nagar.
The Technical Training Effectiveness Workshop can be a key element of the training and upskilling solution for your company.