Why Traditional Training is not Effective in Raising Awareness
Insights – Training

Raising awareness in a training context means enabling trainees to understand not just the “how” but the “why” behind actions. This includes comprehending the background information, recognizing appropriate and inappropriate circumstances for actions, grasping the consequences of actions, and mastering the execution of these actions proficiently. When done correctly, this comprehensive understanding prevents trainees from merely following procedures robotically and instead, allows them to act consciously, mitigate risks, and reduce procedural deviations. However, achieving this level of awareness is challenging, and traditional training programs frequently fall short for several reasons.

The Biggest Challenges for Raising Awareness with Traditional Training

1. Complex Background Information

Nature of Information:
The theoretical foundations required for understanding specific actions often involve complex natural sciences with abstract concepts. These are inherently difficult to teach and even more challenging for trainees to grasp and retain.

Teaching Methods:
Traditional training methods, which commonly rely on passive learning modes like lectures and readings, have lower retention rates. These methods do not engage trainees adequately, making it hard for them to internalize and recall information when needed.

2. Complex Process Information

Process Complexity:
Many operational processes are intricate, with numerous variables and exceptions. Standard training often oversimplifies these processes, leading to a superficial understanding of when and how specific actions should be executed.

Organizational Complexity:
Most employees don’t know what their colleagues really do, let alone what other departments do and why this is important. But this knowledge is often critical to properly place the own actions into context and understand how they impact the overall process and organization.

3. Conditioning of Behavior:

Over-reliance on Theoretical Training:
There is often a significant gap between learning about an action and performing it. Standard training may involve detailed descriptions or demonstrations of procedures, but without hands-on practice, trainees cannot develop the automaticity needed for expert execution.

Lack of Routine:
Expertise in any action comes from repeated, varied practice until the action becomes second nature. The initial hands-on practical training needs to be followed-up with more practical training to gain routine.

4. Unclear Consequences of Behavior:

Visibility and Timeliness of Explanations:
The consequences of actions are often not immediately evident; they might be discussed long after the actions have been performed or not explained at all. Because of the invisible nature of the abstract concepts, consequences are not visible to the naked eye. This delayed or absent feedback loop makes it difficult for trainees to understand the practical impact of their actions.

Subjective Assessment and Feedback:
If present, oversight during training and in production is highly subjective, leading to variances in what is perceived right or wrong. This way, trainees are not able to learn in a consistent and reliable way, which results in behavioral mistakes in production.

Error-free Expectation:
Trainees are typically expected to execute actions correctly after they have been told how to do it, which is an unrealistic and unhelpful framework that discourages learning from mistakes—an essential aspect of effective education.

Factors Outside the Training Program

While traditional training methods are not suited to train awareness, there are also factors outside the training program that further complicate the matter. Those factors are often also outside the controll of the managers responsible for the training program. This highlights the need for an inter-departmental dialogue.

Discrepancy Between Training and Reality

There is often a significant gap between how tasks are taught in training and how they are carried out in actual work environments. This discrepancy can lead to confusion and errors when trainees attempt to apply what they’ve learned in real-world scenarios.

Inadequate Risk Assessment in SOPs

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in many organizations do not adequately reflect the real-life criticalities and risks of tasks. This lack of a risk-based approach can lead to severe misunderstandings and under-preparation for dealing with actual dangers.

Mismatch Between Trainee Preparation and Job Requirements

New hires are frequently given a superficial overview of their job roles without substantial insight into the actual demands and challenges of the environment they will be working in (e.g., cleanrooms). This inadequate preparation can lead to high turnover rates due to frustration and job-role mismatches.

Traditional Training is not Effective in Raising Awareness

To effectively raise awareness through training, programs must transcend traditional methodologies and embrace approaches that foster deep understanding, practical skills, and adaptability. This means integrating interactive learning experiences, continuous and objective feedback mechanisms, risk-based scenarios, and ample practical exposure. Only then can training programs prepare individuals not just to perform their roles but to understand and manage the complexities and responsibilities those roles entail. Thus, enhancing both individual and organizational performance.

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