Do Your Operators Own the Equipment?

With the best of intentions...

When we start doing Essential Asset Care classes for operators we make sure that we spend time with site leadership laying out a roadmap for success. This usually involves spending a couple of days on site, reviewing class content and doing a leadership workshop to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Leadership is always excited to get moving forward on a training series that is going to improve operator skills, and in turn improve site reliability and profitability. During the leadership workshop, we review what has to happen for success and what systems should be in place to ensure sustainability of the process. After all, we want our clients to be successful long after we’ve finished up the classes. The classes are just the first step in helping build an engaged workforce that owns their equipment.

Nobody told me...

With all the pre-work is complete, it’s time to start the classroom sessions... and that, as they say, is when the real fun begins. The students show up, the class gets kicked off and we are off and running. Soon though, it becomes apparent... the body language of the students tell the whole story. There they sit. A group of operators, leaning back in their seats, arms folded in front of their chests, and a look on their faces letting you know they would rather be any place else but sitting in class. Even though there has been plenty of planning and pre-work done to execute the training and get the systems in place for success... nobody talked to the operators.

Communicate, communicate, communicate...

It always comes down to (a lack of?) communication. When implementing new training it needs to be communicated up, down, sideways and every way in between. You cannot over communicate when it comes to kicking off a new initiative. Saturate the intranet, saturate the control room screens, mention the initiative at every meeting or encounter. Everyone on site (not just those attending training) need to be aware of the purpose of the training, how important it is, and what the expectations are, coming out of the classes.

It’s best to hear it from leadership...

It’s vitally important that you sit down with each operator that is going to go through class and let them know why they are going. They need to hear it from their leaders. It is much more effective for students to hear about why they are going to spend their off days in class building their skills from their leaders than from the instructor. They should hear it from you first. Trust me, I can make a pretty compelling argument, but from the operator’s point of view, if you cared, you would have talked to them directly.

They need more than support, they need sponsorship...

If you really want to show sponsorship of your operators, talk to each of them individually about why they are attending, and then commit to going to the class yourself. As well ... get as many from the leadership team to show sponsorship of the initiative by signing up and going to the classes as well. It makes a HUGE difference. When students see the plant manager sitting in class, they perk up, drop their defensive postures and listen intently. After all, if this is important enough for the plant manager to attend, well maybe, they better listen closely and learn something.

Set expectations early... It sounds simple but when it comes right down to it, people want to do the right things and do a good job. People also want to be told (one on one preferably) about why they are doing training, why their attendance is important, and what the expectations are after the class is complete. After all, we usually do these classes in order to change and get better, but keep in mind most people fear change. With a lack of information and little direct communication about the purpose and products of the initiative, most students will be defensive from the get go. This is a counterproductive way to start a session and a series of classes. It can be overcome with time as the students see for themselves what the class is all about. But why not get everyone on board right away and avoid the fear and mistrust?

One on one communication is key...

The key is communication. No matter what the initiative is, don’t overlook the importance of straight forward one on one communication. People will appreciate the time spent outlining the purpose of the training and their role in it. It helps, and clients who spend the time to communicate effectively with their operators about the training and set the expectations early reap the rewards. The time spent up front pays dividends with improved learning in class and improved application on the job once the classes are complete. After all, the goal is an engaged workforce of operators that own their equipment, completing the pre-work and good one on one communication really helps to get the ball rolling.

If there is enough interest in this article, I’ll write another one. So stay tuned ...

I welcome your feedback, good, bad or indifferent.

#Training #ProcessExcellence #EssentialAssetCare

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