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2 Improving Results with Hands-On Training

Gary R. Sisson Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Tim Horton was having a tough time on his new job. He knew it, his boss knew it, and so did everyone else. It wasn’t as if he didn’t try, but the computer system was complex, and there were a lot of applications to learn. Tim spent a week in formal training and had done well. Once he got on the job, however, he couldn’t keep up with the workload. Two of Tim’s coworkers had tried to help, but it didn’t work. Tim just wasn’t catching on.

Tim’s boss, Shauna Davis, was feeling the pressure to replace Tim with someone who could get the job done. But Shauna was reluctant to bring in yet another new person while there was still a chance that Tim might improve. “Maybe it isn’t Tim’s fault. Maybe he isn’t getting the right kind of help. After all, there is a difference between the classroom and the job,” she thought.12

Shauna decided to have Tim work with Linda Hart, who was one of the very best people in their department. Linda was the semi-official department trainer and had been to a class on how to conduct Hands-On Training. But Linda was very busy. If she was going to help Tim, it would have to happen fast—three or four days at the most. They couldn’t afford more than that.

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6 Hands-On Training Instuctior Guide

Gary R. Sisson Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

An instructor guide is a step-by-step “recipe” for instructors to follow when conducting training. Some instructors use different names, such as lesson plan, training plan, facilitator’s guide, and so on, but they all refer to the same thing: a document that describes how to do the training. This chapter includes four instructor guides for Hands-On Training. These follow the Four-Phase Sequence described in chapter 4, but they go into a lot more detail.

Because this book may be used by instructors from many different organizations, such as factories, offices, retail stores, hospitals, and others, the instructor guides included here are generic. That is, they are written to be flexible and adaptable to your own situation. They are specific about how to do the training, but they only make suggestions about what topics to cover. For example, the equipment used in a bank may differ greatly from that used in a pharmacy or a photo lab. Yet our generic instructor guide for equipment must cover all of these situations and many more, as well. For that reason, you may want to go through each guide and adapt it to your own job. Also, some instructors like to have their instructor guides set up as a form. Many different alternatives are available, and you should feel free to choose the one you like best.72

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4 Tools to Enhance Hands-On Training

Gary R. Sisson Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Several tools or techniques are commonly used by instructors within the context of Hands-On Training. Some of these govern the instructor’s basic approach to HOT and may not be obvious to trainees. Others are more procedural in nature and help the instructor carry out certain tasks during the training. As with the HOT POPPER method itself, most of the tools explained here are simple and straightforward. They don’t require a lot of complicated reasoning. Most people can readily understand them and use them to increase the effectiveness of training.

The more difficult question is when to use these tools, not how to use them. In a few cases the answer is obvious. For example, one of the tools (Daily Routine) describes a simple pattern to follow if your training lasts several days. When do you use it? Every day. But others, such as Question-and-Answer sessions and Self-Critiques must be initiated by the instructor on the spot—when called for by the situation. This means that the instructor must have these tools available (i.e., know them), recognize when it is time to pull one out of the tool kit, and then apply it to the situation at hand. Master instructors do this instinctively. New instructors usually have to think about it.48

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7 Making Hands-On Traning Work

Gary R. Sisson Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

It is one matter to start using Hands-On Training in place of traditional on-the-job training and another to keep it going. Unfortunate though it may be, the U.S. business community has a long history of embracing and quickly discarding new programs. A “been there, done that” mentality is firmly implanted in the minds of both managers and workers. This being the case, it is no wonder that many, perhaps even most, new programs are greeted with passive resistance from those who remain convinced that if they can just wait it out, “This, too, shall pass!” Hands-On Training is no exception.

To help you overcome this resistance, we looked at organizations that are committed to making Hands-On Training work to find out what characteristics they share. Most of these fall into the “lessons learned” category. As with just about everything having to do with HOT, the following suggestions, derived from these lessons, are simple and straightforward.90

This is probably the single most important piece of advice we can offer about using Hands-On Training on a long-term basis. Most of the other suggestions are intended to support the notion that HOT should belong to the workers themselves. It should not be regarded as a “management program.” In fact, HOT shouldn’t be regarded as a program at all. Rather, HOT should become an integral part of “the way we do things here.”

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3 Adapting the Method to Fit Your Situation

Gary R. Sisson Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Don’t kid yourself. Hands-On Training may follow a formula, but it’s not a rigid system. Each time the method is applied, it is being used by people. Their personalities, their situations, and their personal preferences shape just about everything that happens. There are choices to be made, pitfalls to avoid, and opportunities for creativity throughout the process. Perhaps a story may help to illustrate this point.

Recently I was invited to assist a company in the southeastern United States. It was a heavy industrial factory that produced steel wire. Those not familiar with wire manufacturing might find it helpful to know something about the process. Wire manufacturing (called “wire drawing”) is part science and part art. To form the wire, a coil of steel rod as thick as your thumb is pulled and stretched (i.e., drawn) through a series of smaller and smaller holes (called “dies”) by powerful motor-driven pulleys (called “capstans”) until it is drawn down to the correct size. The process is fast, hot, noisy, dirty, and relatively dangerous. You can burn yourself, break an arm, get a cut. Accidents can happen in an instant. Wire drawing is hard work, but it is also work that takes a good deal of thought. A considerable amount of technical troubleshooting is required, so job experience is a valuable commodity within the wire industry.40

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