After putting a training session on, we hand out a course evaluation for the attendees to fill in. After 2-5 days of intense instruction this is one of the last pieces of paperwork standing between a student in the class and a quick exit out the door; evaluations are not always filled out as diligently as one would like. After seven years of doing this, you tend to be able to spot a trend.

One of the questions on the evaluation is “What roadblocks are there that would stop you from using what you have learned in class?”

The top three answers:

1. No tools

2. No Time

And my all time favorite…

3. They won’t let me

I guess the question to me is what do these responses tell us about manufacturing organization in general. I say in general because so far the responses have been remarkably similar in the U.S., no matter what industry we are working in.

Usually, when we are asked to come in and do training it is because the client wants to do something different. At some level in the organization, it has been decided that there is a need to improve on the status quo. Maybe profit margins are shrinking, the competition is nipping at our heels, or there is a need to do more with less. In short, whatever the reason, training is usually a prerequisite for doing something different. Change is in the air, and if that’s the case, who forgot to tell the students?

No Tools

I think that this objection is an easy one to overcome. As an organization, if you take on training and skill building that is going to require an investment in tools that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your employees, then you might as well just go ahead buy the tools. Buy the tools up front before the training. Actions do speak louder than words.

In this case nothing shows commitment to employees like seeing something concrete has been done before the class. Tools that have been purchased up front are available for use both in the class and upon return to the shop floor, and shows a commitment much greater than words alone.

Just buy the tools, enough said. Objection #1 overcome.

No Time & They Won’t Let Me

No Time, and They won’t let me are different sides of the same coin. I think this has to do with the number one deficiency in reliable manufacturing today; effective communication.

“No time” and “They won’t let me,” are typical responses along with the No being circled for “Did you have clear understanding of the course objectives before attending this session?”

If you truly want a class to be effective and culture changing, as leaders you’re going to have to talk with each and every individual employee about the expectations and objectives of the class. A blanket email cc’ing everyone won’t cut it. Most people will not read the email close enough for it to be effective, and most employees believe that if it’s important to you as a leader you would take the time to talk to me face to face … and that’s what it takes. One on one conversations that lay out where we are going and how we are going to get there, help set expectations for the class and make the investment in training much more effective.

Typically training classes are just one of many tools used to get an organization to where it needs to be, and effectively communicating how a class fits into where the organization is going can be used to set the expectations of using the skills learned in class in our day to day work.

What I have seen is that in classes where leadership has had these one on one conversations the response to the question “What roadblocks are there that would stop you from using what you have learned in class?” changes from “No time, no tools, they won’t let me” to “Nothing”.

In short, effective communication can remove the perceived hurdles that inhibit change, and results from a class are more forthcoming. Objections #2  overcome.

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