Is More Effective Training the Answer?

a post-it note that says to stop doing it wrong and start More Effective Training

More Effective Training Creates More Effective Performance
Recently there has been a spotlight on Capitol Hill over TSA’s abysmal record at spotting weapons as they pass through airport security. Recent undercover tests of the system found TSA failed to detect weapons 70% of the time…and that was an improvement over a test two years before when the resulting failures occurred 95% of the time. Is more effective training the answer?

The Root Cause is Unclear
So far, no one really knows the exact reason for the high failure rates. More effective training may not solve the problem.  Some lawmakers seek improvement through better technology. Some blame low morale (TSA ranked 303rd out of 305 government agencies in 2016).

Certainly something has to change…they need to do a root cause analysis and improve performance before they decide more effective training is the answer.

Three Requirements for More Effective Training
We have a hunch that ineffective training is part of the problem.  For more effective training, and for any training to have the desired impact, you need four things:

1.  Relevance
When TSA employees and their bosses believe they will be able to conduct their jobs more efficiently, interact with “customers” more effectively, be appropriately recognized and appreciated for their performance, and contribute meaningfully to enhanced safety for themselves and travelers, they are more likely to be invested in a training solution that makes sense.

Your job as a learning leader is to ensure training is both relevant and useful to the training participants, their bosses and the organizational as a whole. Employees will only fully engage and bosses will only fully support training programs that directly improve current on-the-job performance or future career development.

Irrelevant training is typically a waste of everyone’s time and money.

2.  Practice
We believe most people learn by doing, receiving feedback and doing it again.  Rather than teaching theory and expecting employees to apply it on the job, have them perform and practice relevant and “real world” scenarios in a training environment and on-the-job. Encourage their efforts at applying the new skills and give them frequent feedback and coaching along the way.

This greatly improves your chances of ensuring the new skills are effectively transferred back to the workplace.

3.  Accountability
For on-the-job adoption to occur, it is essential that:

  • New skills and knowledge are measured
  • Employees are held accountable for applying the new skills and behaviors
  • Managers are held accountable for performance coaching
  • Employees are rewarded for the new behaviors
  • Corrective actions are taken for employees or managers not doing their part

Otherwise, workers quickly lose the incentive to make the effort required to adopt new behaviors.

The Bottom Line – Is More Effective Training the Answer?
Like most performance issues, the answer to improvements in TSA screening most likely contains a combination of actions related to clear goals/roles/processes, improved technology, better trained employees and aligned performance metrics and rewards.

Training by itself is rarely the answer to changing behavior and performance.

To learn more about more effective training best practices, download The Top 3 Steps to as Smarter Training Initiative According to Executives

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