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Building Consensus Through Workplace Training

Posted: March 6, 2014 — Theresa DaBiere-Craig

One of the best outcomes from bringing employees together for training is the opportunity to build consensus on the way your business operates. Successful organizations know that consistency is important. It’s essential that a sales order is always processed the same way; every product is made according to specification; a customer service call is handled uniformly; or, a meal tastes the same every time. Consumers expect and are loyal to consistency; wrapping that theme around training brings added value to employee development programs.

What it really comes down to is aligning the information being presented in the training with the organization’s goals and operations. Think of it this way, how does your car ride when the steering and wheels are not aligned? Your ride is bumpy, the car veers to one side, you experience uneven wear on the tires, travel is not safe and extra money is needed to pay for repairs. The same thing happens at work when we try to develop skills and put new concepts into practice without getting everyone on the same page. Bringing employees together for “discussions” in training is important in order for them to be aligned on how to implement the knowledge when they leave the training room and put their skills to work.

Instructors find relevant learning opportunities connected to these types of discussions. Office personnel in a computer class learning how to create, manage, and save files may find themselves talking about the best way to name their folders so they all know where to find a document. Managers developing their coaching skills can come to an agreement on how to measure performance using company specific standards.  Technicians learning to repair equipment problems may decide to adopt a procedure using the same trouble shooting checklist. Employers find that they receive a better return on their training investment when participants are engaged in these important conversations while they are learning.

Getting any group of people to come to consensus on something isn’t easy. A trained facilitator can have a positive impact on the process. Leading group discussions by asking good questions helps people to use critical thinking to explore the strategies needed to apply what they are learning. The facilitator can assist the trainees to address the realistic barriers they may face in the transfer of skills from the classroom to the work environment. The dialogue that occurs in class also supports buy-in to the training, team building, and the sustainability of the training.

The Center for Employer Services at FM designs training to blend skill development with relevant operational aspects of each organization. Training methods include a combination of lecture, interactive discussion, group activities, and skill practice around specific workplace situations. We find this approach is just as effective in teaching soft skills on topics such as supervision and communication, as it is when we are instructing on technical skills.

For more information on programs to enhance computer skills, management practices, safety programs and other customized training, visit Workforce Training at www.fmcc.edu or call (518) 424-9370.

Theresa DaBiere-Craig is the Outreach Representative for the Center for Employer Services at FM.

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