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Bringing mandatory training to life

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A member of the TRDEV-L listserv last week asked for help to liven up annual, compulsory training sessions in H&S. Here are four fellow-listers' responses:

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 09:15:43 -0400
From: Katrina_Meyers@IDX.COM
Subject: Making mandatory training more interesting

I conduct annual refresher training for Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations level training for the volunteer fire company, of which I'm a member. I agree that the videos and standard content get stale very quickly. Since a high percentage of the trainees each year have been there at least once before, and this content is not rocket science for the most part, I start off presuming that they remember a majority of the content and build on that. My reviews now consist of setting out scenarios for them to solve in small groups and then we debrief their answers and during that debrief, we build a list of the content that I would have delivered anyway. For example, I give them a scenario of a car/tractor trailer accident at a major intersection near a school. I tell them that I want to hear how they approach the scene, where they set up, how they identify the material, and how they proceed (different for the level of training they are certified for). They decide this in small groups and then we debrief by listing out their decisions on the board. By the time all the groups in the class go, they have covered virtually everything I could have presented with videos or lecture and they were awake and interested.

I have also used Jeopardy and, just this year, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,variations as review tools. It keeps them energized and interested and interacting and they like the competition. I did some variations on how they were played to get more than three people interacting with the review.

I don't know if you'll ever get people to WANT to come to the mandatory refresher training, but you can certainly make their time spent more interesting. If they know it isn't going to be the same old same old, you won't have to drag as many participants kicking and screaming into class.

If you'd like more details, please email me at meyers@idx.com

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 13:25:00 -0400
From: carl_levely@DOFASCO.CA

Faced with a similar challenge last year we decided to schedule a Health & Safety day event very similar to a conference. It was very successful and we have people looking forward to this year's. When we were given the task of putting together a Health and Safety day we wanted the day to be relatively original, valuable and suitable for the context. To make it memorable we needed to come up with ways to produce long term vivid recall because of its novelty, surprise, incongruity and meaningfulness. To make it inspirational we wanted to appeal and elevate the spirit and emotions, add insight and appeal to the aesthetic sense. As far as the agenda goes, what we did was to include information sessions that covered:
* Some of the required yearly Safety topics
* The Health side of Health and Safety
* The status of our Health & Safety Policy initiative - standards, documentation etc.
* Supplemental information chosen for the broadest possible appeal

How we accomplished this was to focus our efforts toward doing everything we could to maximize the value to everyone. Disney calls it "expanding the product" - looking at the product or service from the customer's point ofview. What we did was to look at every activity from an attendee's viewpoint and tried to provide the best possible value. We knew from our background in providing training that a little effort goes a long way and that the overall effect is accomplished through the seamless integration of all aspects of the experience.

Hope this helps and I have more info if you're interested

Carl Levely


Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 09:01:38 -0600
From: "Settles, Patty" PSettles@MWRD.DST.CO.US
Subject: Mandatory Safety Training

You are looking for alternate techniques for presenting required/mandated safety training. I am in the same situation. Some tricks, er, I mean,"approaches" :>) I've used that have been successful are:
1. Serve food.
2. Have a peer present the training. There is some morbid interest in seeing "one of their own" in the spot light. Also, if the peer is well-respected, the validity of the information he/she presents seems to increase.
3. Serve food.
4. Create a sense of competition. i.e., Design a final review/test that can be completed as a group. Have the group with the highest score win something. We give away small things (candy bar, company logo cap, McDonald's gift certificate, etc.). It's not the prize, it's the winning.
5. Serve food.

As silly as it seems, the better the food, the more eager people are to attend. It doesn't matter if I've racked my brains to create interesting activities, have a presentation riddled with interesting anecdotes, or obtained the latest/slickest of videos, etc. If the food is non-existent, sparse or not to their liking, that always impacts attendance, participation and negative comments on the feedback sheets. In our neck of the woods, breakfast burritos are always a sure hit.

I'll appreciate hearing the other creative ideas you receive,

Patty Settles


The fourth offering is even more radical: "Don't do it!"

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 08:27:34 -0500
From: Cynthia Roberts tcr200@NETNITCO.NET
Subject: Mandatory Safety Training

I too have been resposible for "mandatory training" in safety. My challenge to you is, what is the real intended outcome of the regulation? Is it not continued demonstration of safety competence as opposed to documentation of time spent in a training program? If your associates can demonstrate competence through the following:
- passing appropriate tests (computerized format would work well here)
- using appropriate behaviors as observed by the supervisor/trainer/designated person (and defined by a standard checklist)
why should they sit through a class containing content that doesn't change substantially from year to year? To me, this does not seem to be a very efficient use of everyone's time. What does everyone get out of watching the same video or listening to the same presentation year after year? Any updates to content could be distributed by an alternative method such as a newsletter, email, staff meetings, etc. as long as you maintain documentation.

Well, that was my two cents - I hope this helps!

Cynthia Roberts
www.strategic-learning.com

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