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Training Program Improvement

Continuous Improvement is the Goal

Did the learners like the training?

There's always room for continuous improvement in any safety training program. However, if your evaluation indicates the training program is effective in content, presentation and testing, yet employees are not following the procedures and practices they learned in training, it's likely the culture that supports the training program may need improvement.

In any case, continuous improvement in training, resources, enforcement, and/or supervision may be required when employees are not complying with safety policies and rules.

Ultimately, improving safety training is all about change management. Effective change management is crucial to long term success. We'll take a look at one proven change model that can be applied to safety training.

1. What is likely to be the root cause when employees are not following the procedures and practices learned in training?

a. Lack of motivation
b. Poor worker attitudes
c. Lack of safety culture support
d. Supervisor pressure

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Conduct a survey and analyze the results.

When Training Needs Improvement

If, after evaluation, it is clear that the training did not give the employees the level of knowledge and skill that was expected, it may be necessary the training manager to revise the training program or provide periodic retraining.

To determine what should be done to solve the training problem, conduct a focus group or survey asking trainers and employees questions about the training they have experienced, and how it can be improved. Below are some questions that you may want to consider asking.

Survey Questions

  • Were parts of the content already known and, therefore, unnecessary?
  • What material was confusing or distracting?
  • Was anything missing from the program?
  • What did the employees learn, and what did they fail to learn?
  • If a job analysis was conducted, was it accurate?
  • Was any critical feature of the job overlooked?
  • Were the important gaps in knowledge and skill included?
  • Was material already known by the employees intentionally omitted?
  • Were the instructional objectives presented clearly and concretely?
  • Did the objectives state the level of acceptable performance that was expected of employees?
  • Did the learning activity simulate the actual job?
  • Was the learning activity appropriate for the kinds of knowledge and skills required on the job?
  • When the training was presented, was the organization of the material and its meaning made clear?
  • Were the employees motivated to learn?
  • Were the employees allowed to participate actively in the training process?
  • Was the employer's evaluation of the program thorough?

After completing the survey, analyze the results with training staff, and decide if training needs to revised or, if the training is adequate, you need to conduct retraining as necessary.

One last note: you may be surprised with the results about the training you receive from employees, but don't let pride get in the way. Remember, "the facts are friendly," and they will only help improve the training program.

2. What should the evaluator do if, after the evaluation, it is clear that the training did not give the employees adequate knowledge and skill to perform safely?

a. Conduct a safety inspection to check behaviors
b. Recommend discipline for the trainer
c. Conduct a survey of students and trainers
d. Ask management what they neglected to do

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Management of Change

Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle

After asking the questions in the previous section, you may discover that one or more improvements to your training program is necessary. If so, it's important to carefully develop and implement the change through effective change management principles.

Deming Cycle

One very successful and widely used change management technique is the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle, first developed by Dr. Walter Shewhart, and later applied by W. Edwards Deming, the father of total quality management, to transform the industry of Japan after World War II. He promoted the PDSA Cycle that was partly responsible for Japan's meteoric rise in manufacturing. He believed that statistics hold the key to improving processes, and that management must take responsibility for quality in the workplace because management controls the processes.

The Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle can be very effective, when followed systematically, in improving safety and quality. Once a team has been established and develops measures to determine whether a change leads to an improvement, the next step is to test a change in the real work setting. The PDSA cycle is shorthand for testing a change — by planning it, trying it, observing the results, and acting on what is learned. This is the scientific method, used for action-oriented learning.

3. Which of the following is a successful change management technique used widely by business?

a. Shewhart's Five-Level Change Process
b. Deming's Plan-Do-Study-Act technique
c. Peterson's Multiple-Task Change Model
d. Heinrich's Management by Change process

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The Deming Cycle (Continued)

Step 1: Plan - Design the change or test

Any change in the safety training process or program must be carefully planned to reduce the likelihood that unwanted results occur. We want training plans to work. They're less likely to work if not carefully planned, but rather built on hunches. Bottom line: small steps!

The purpose of this important first step is to:

  • take the necessary time to thoroughly understand the process;
  • explore the changes that might improve the training process;
  • identify the factors that influence the process;
  • plan the change in the training program before it's implemented;
  • pinpoint specific conditions, behaviors, results you expect to see as a result of the change; and
  • plan to ensure successful transition (instructors, supervisors) as well as change.

Step 2: Do - Carry out the change or test

The purpose of this step is to formally implement the change or test. It's important that the test be conducted on a small scale to limit the number of variables involved. If the change is too large, and something doesn't work, you may not be able to pinpoint the variables that caused the unexpected results. If unexpected results occur, limiting the scope will reduce the negative impact of the change.

4. Changes to safety training or testing should be conducted on a small scale in order to _____.

a. reduce control
b. decrease entropy
c. increase randomness
d. limit the variables

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The Deming Cycle (Continued)

Step 3: Study - Examine the effects or results of the change or test

The purpose of this step is to record and study the effects of the change or test. We want to determine what was learned: what went right or wrong. Statistical process analysis, surveys, questionnaires, interviews and other techniques are important in studying the effects the change had on the quality of training.

Step 4: Act - Adopt, abandon, or repeat the cycle

The purpose of this step is to incorporate what works into the system and toss what doesn't. We need to ask not only if we're doing the right things, but ask if we're doing things right. And, are we doing it for the right reason. If we find we're doing the right things, the right way, for the right reasons, we're on the right track. If the result of the change was not as intended, abandon the change or begin the cycle again with the new knowledge gained.

5. The purpose of Step 3 of the PDSA Cycle is _____.

a. to record and study the effect of the change
b. to revise or eliminate what doesn't work
c. explore changes to improve the process
d. formally implement the change

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Effective Change Requires Successful Transition

Implementing change in training requires changes in processes, procedures, policies, and ultimately corporate culture.

As a result, it's important to understand the dynamics of change and transition. William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, emphasizes that, for change to be effective, employees must successfully transition.

Change is External

The origin of change is external, usually viewed as an imposition, and can be quite scary. Change of any kind may actually be threatening to an employee. Change may require new expectations in expertise, knowledge and skills. New expectations make anyone nervous. To one degree or other, we all worry that we may not be able to meet those new expectations. To overcome the fear of the new "unknown" it's important that we successfully transition.

Transition is Internal

For change to be successful, employees must transition internally to the new way of doing things. There must be a change in internal thinking as well as external action. It's important during this period of increased anxiety and confusion to communicate often with employees so they understand why the change is necessary. Employees must let go of the past, adapt, and accept what is new.

So what's the bottom line when it comes to change. Make sure you communicate the benefits of a change in the training program. Don't just assume that the change has happened once it has been implemented. Remember, the number one reason we don't do what we should is because we don't know "why" we should do it!

6. According to William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions, change is _____ and transition is _____.

a. collective, personal
b. effective, elusive
c. external, internal
d. expected, random

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.

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