Michael Stroberger, CPO, CSS, CPP
December 1, 2000
Reprint Protection News
One of the most fundamental facts of our industry is that training is critical to success. In some cases, training specifics are mandated by law; in others, common sense must prevail. In all cases, some basic theories must be taken into account, if the process is to be effective, efficient and thorough.
In the initial stages of development, the facilitator should identify any mandated aspect of the training program, based on prevailing law. In addition to this, a familiarity with the industry standards, formalized or otherwise, should also be pursued vigorously. Regardless of the specific legal requirements and industry standards, some underlying threads must be present.
Maintain Interest. Nothing undermines a training program more quickly than lack of attention. In order to maintain this attention, the facilitator should consider many aspects of the process.
Are the trainees required to pass a certain examination at the end?
Are THEY aware of this?
How long are the trainees asked to sit in lectures, in each session?
What is the average level of education and previous training of the trainees?
What is the average age and employment history of the trainees?
Once these types of questions have been considered, the facilitator must then ask: What types of visual aids and methods of delivery are best suited to the trainees, based on the above considerations? Training must be catered to the audience, if it is to be received well, and retained! Depending on the specific mix, some forms of delivery can greatly increase the attention span, providing the ability to move into more detailed topics.
Demonstrate Application to Duties. A trainee who is shown a technique, after being told that they are to perform this technique on a daily/hourly/constant basis, is far more likely to memorize and retain the details of that technique. This serves to anchor the theory in daily routine, and further maintains their interest in the topic. Keep the examples realistic, and utilize BRIEF accounts of proper, actual application, if available. Tell them the "WHY" of each technique, rather than just the "HOW."
Maintain Realism. The worst possible thing in the training environment is to quote examples, or set expectations, which are unrealistic. This can be a liability issue, an effectiveness issue and a credibility issue. At some point, most thorough and well designed programs will more outside of the traditional classroom setting. Once this occurs, be it foot patrol simulations, the range, the practice mat or OTJ at the location in question, the most essential aspect of the training becomes realism. The trainee must be exposed not only to the "HOW" and "WHY" of the topic, they must experience these in the real world. As an example, if training in defensive tactics, after the initial instruction, the trainee should encounter a reasonable level of force, and a dynamic opponent. The classic "Stand-still-while-I-choke-you" routine fails to teach the trainee how to handle the less-than-ideal attacker. Unfortunately, that is exactly what they are most likely to encounter.
Documentation is Critical. So, you've designed a program which meets the legal requirements, exceeds the industry standards, kept them on the edge of their seats in the classroom, cleverly fed them the background concepts behind their duties, then shocked them with an alarming level of realism in the final stages of training. Now what? Well, as they say in many fields "If it's not in writing, it did not happen." Make sure that you have been documenting every step of the program, and each individual's progress. The proof of training is almost as valuable, in some cases more valuable, than the training itself. Don't let all of your efforts go to waste! A well designed program is a joy to work with, from both sides of the training process. Keep this in mind, and you'll train more thoroughly, with better retention and fulfill your obligations to your employer(s), client(s) and trainees.