“This is the true story... of seven strangers... picked to live in a house... and have their lives taped... to find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real...The Real World.” Nope. Not that “Real World” from MTV. Although many times in a management training program we take 2 strangers and put them in a hotel room for several weeks without seeing their family while witnessing each other’s annoying habits usually reserved for one’s own personal life. That’s when we find out who sucks as a roommate and who doesn’t! It’s not a reality TV series but definitely a not-so-awesome reality of some long term training programs.
No, for the purposes of today’s blog entry, The Law of Real World pertains to making sure that the training we are giving, the examples we use, tools and systems we teach, match what they will be doing in real life when they get out of training. Too many times I hear “well this is what the standards say but that’s not the way it happens ‘in the real world.’” My answer is always, “Ok, so how does it happen in the real world?” The reason I want to know is not so I can catch someone doing something wrong, it’s so I can figure out if the standards aren’t realistic and need to be changed, or if the conditions at that work center need to be altered to allow the standards to be met. Also, I don’t want to waste valuable teaching and coaching time on a standard or action that won’t help them be successful once they graduate from the training program.
In addition, we want to make sure the equipment we are training them on is the same equipment they will actually be using. You wouldn’t take an Air Force Mechanic who will be working on F-18’s and have them train on an older, different type of jet would you? Why have someone train on a computer they will never use, or a forklift that they will never drive or a piece of kitchen equipment that doesn't exist in most units? Train people on the same equipment they will be working on to allow them to start on the road to mastery of that apparatus rather than having to start all over when they get out of training.
Lastly, if you have to use simulators, models, or e-courses with interactive technology, make them as real-world as possible. Avoid cartoons or models that are generic if at all possible. Use role play to practice things like interviewing, coaching and counselling, handling customer service complaints, etc. I happen to think that the future of training is virtual reality so that you can have real world simulated activity without training on the customers. Also it will be fun to walk into a class and see everyone moving around with those big giant view finders on their heads!
So if we teach them right the first time, repeat the main principles often while having as much fun as possible, on relevant equipment, procedures or programs they can actually use, we can have team members and leaders who are “work-ready” when they complete their training. The result is that they will be up-and-running immediately. Unfortunately I’m not sure you can say that about a few of the kids from the MTV’s Real World! Some of them didn’t strike me as “work-ready,” but who am I to judge? On a personal note - happy birthday to my very first trainer - my Dad, Ken Isbell. He taught me so much and continues to do so today! Thanks for reading. Have a great day and make it count.