Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a five-part series of articles that will explore each concept behind the five moments of need in training.
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change,” so said Mary Shelley in her famous novel Frankenstein. This would be wise to remember when dealing with the fifth and last moment of training need.
In our industry, the moments of change are many: new science requires a change in risk validation; new formulas require a change in process; new regulations require a change in reporting and documentation; new equipment requires a change in process; and new product lines require a change in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or HACCP, plans.
And yet, according to Conrad Gottfredson, PhD, and Bob Mosher, authors of The Five Moments of Learning Need, “This moment…has been the least attended to, and yet it is the most challenging. And since we don’t attend to it very well, it is often the most costly to organizations.”
When training for change, the first step is to understand its impact on your workforce and tailor your interventions accordingly.
Some change initiatives are simple. They are modifications or improvements to existing processes and patterns that do not demand too much of the learner. For instance, one trainer told the story of watching day shift employees arrive for work at a client’s facility. “Either you’ve changed your process flow, or you’ve hired a bunch of ballerinas,” she commented to her host. The host was stumped. “Well,” she continued, “I’ve just watched at least eight people walk to that door over there, pirouette, and go in the opposite direction.”
The change in traffic patterns did not require a formal training program, though a well-placed reminder at key entrance points was a key requirement. The true challenge was not in crafting a kick-ass video job aid or micro-training moment; it was in having enough patience to allow the new learning to take effect. It takes on average three weeks to break a habit. Provide reinforcement and encouragement, and let the change grow organically.
Complex change is a different matter. It breaks the pattern and moves into brand new territory. And this is where training becomes more challenging. Humans like consistency. We like to be in control. We like feeling confident. We do not like to appear foolish.
A good training program addresses this fear by building a human sensibility into the program with these three steps:
- When the learner grieves for the old pattern, emphasize the benefits of the new learning;
- When the learner feels uncomfortable and not in control, provide a safe environment for practice and experimentation; and
- When the learner works hard to build the new skills, offer guidance and reinforcement until the skill is mastered.
1. Emphasize the Benefits
We’ve talked of Station WIIFM before. It’s the one all the cool workers listen to: What’s In It For Me. You will never succeed in convincing employees to adopt change unless you are on their wavelength. When the change is externally mandated, this task can be relatively easy: “We must adopt this new process because the regulators will shut us down if we do not” is a pretty compelling reason.
Internally directed change can be more challenging. You may think the new process improvement will increase efficiency tremendously, but it’s highly likely that not everyone will feel the same. Moving from paper to electronic recordkeeping is a case in point. This requires training not only in new documentation practices, but quite likely computer training as well. Depending on the computer literacy of your workforce, this can be a daunting task.