Industrial employers want excellent performance, including efficiency and even innovation, from their work forces. And robust, well-designed industrial training programs give employers a better chance of getting just that.
In this article, we’ll share some tips for improving your industrial training program. By following these tips, you’ll help employees acquire necessary knowledge, develop necessary job skills, perform more effectively on the job, be better prepared for their next job positions with your company, help turn your company into a learning organization, and maybe even create innovations that help your company stay ahead of the competition or avoid failure.
Industrial Training Tips for More Productive Employees & Better Business Performance
We’ve provided seven helpful tips you can use to improve your current industrial training programs at work below. For many of the tips, we’ve included additional links to lead you to additional, extensive resources related to that tip.
Putting these tips into action at your industrial workplace will supercharge your training and L&D programs, help your business reach its goals, improve overall efficiency and productivity, help employees acquire necessary knowledge and (more importantly) develop needed skills to perform their job tasks, and much more.
Tip 1: Know the Employees You Need to Train
Training should be learner-focused (this is also sometimes called learner-centric). After all, when you design, develop, and deliver training, you’re trying to help employees learn.
As a result, you must keep the employee’s learning needs and preferences top-of-mind when you design and deliver industrial training. And that means you’re going to have to know the employees you will be training.
What are the requirements of their job? What can they do now and what can’t they do now? What’s their work schedule (important for scheduling training), what kind of training infrastructure do they have access to (for example, do they have access to computers or not), and how much time do they have available for training? Are they experts or novices in your training topic? What are their learning preferences? Are they computer literate, what is their reading level, and what languages do they speak and understand?
A good training designer always does the work to know about the learners and their learning needs.
Tip 2: Understand Your Organization’s Business Goals
Organizations don’t hire and pay trainers for fun. And they don’t do it simply to help employees acquire knowledge, develop skills, or even perform job tasks.
Instead, organizations have training departments because they want training department (and the training) to help the organization reach its goals. Yes, in many cases having employees acquire new knowledge, close skill gaps, and learn to perform job tasks is important for that, but remember these are all means to the end.
From the organization’s perspective, the end-goal is to move closer to or reach those business goals, and the job of training is to help in that effort.
As a result, trainers need to know what those business goals are, and they need to develop training to help the organization meet those goals.
Read this article to learn more about understanding business goals to create better training and this article to learn more about analyzing goals for training.
Tip 3: Understand the Job Tasks Employees Must Perform
Once you understand the employees and the business goals, you’re going to want to analyze the job tasks that employees need to perform. After all, that should be the focus of your training–teaching people to do their jobs.
This requires careful analysis, including interviews with experienced workers and managers, observation of workers performing the job tasks, and more.
For more on this, check out:
- Our recorded video interview with Dr. Patti Shank on Learning Objectives
- Our free Guide to Writing Learning Objectives
Tip 4: Adopt a Human Performance Improvement (HPI) Approach
Training isn’t always the right solution to a workplace performance problem. In some cases, even many, you may find that other interventions address the problem more productively.
That’s where human performance improvement, or HPI, can help out.
The Association of Talent Development (ATD) has created a six-step performance improvement model that includes:
- Performance analysis
- Cause analysis
- Change management
- Evaluation & measurement
You’ll be well served if you learn more about human performance improvement in addition to learning design and if you apply both when on the job to improve your overall industrial learning and development processes.
HPI is a systematic method that also includes a heavy emphasis on systems thinking for problem identification and solving.
For more on human performance improvement, check out the following:
Tip 5: Use a Systematic Method of Training Development
If you’ve done your analysis and training is an appropriate response, you’re not going to want to approach training design and development for your industrial workers in a haphazard, random, or scattershot method.
Instead, use some formulaic, systematic method for training design and development.
The most commonly used model for this is known as ADDIE, with each letter in ADDIE standing for one phase in the process, as described below:
- Analysis–Analysis includes identifying the organizational problem you’re trying to solve; the business goal you’re trying to support; the worker’s learning needs and preferences; whether training is or is not an appropriate intervention, and more.
- Design–During design, you’ll write learning objectives; determine the appropriate training delivery method (or blend); and “blueprint” the learning activity or campaign (including the possibility–strongly recommended–of using a spaced learning approach).
- Develop–Make the training, best test it if possible, and revise it if necessary.
- Implement–Schedule the training; coordinate with managers for additional post-training support and guidance; notify employees of upcoming training; deliver the training.
- Evaluate–Determine if the training was effective or not. There are multiple models for doing this, but the Kirkpatrick model is the most common. Here are recorded discussions on commonly used training evaluation models and Dr. Will Thalheimer’s new LTEM learning evaluation model if you want to learn more.
It’s important to know that while ADDIE is probably the most commonly used method for designing and developing training, it’s not the only one (and of course, each has its pros and cons and it’s advocates and critics). Others include SAM, Llama, and Design Thinking.
Tip 6: Use Evidence-Based Training Methods
As in all fields, in training there are things that work and things that don’t.
And we’re lucky in training, because this is a field where we have researchers who’ve worked hard to identify evidence-based training practices, which are things that we have data proving that they work or don’t.
Evidence-based training practices include but are not limited to:
- Analyze your learners before training to determine things like level of prior knowledge, etc.
- Design training to match learners’ prior/existing knowledge
- Create learning objectives
- Reduce training content to the absolute minimum to teach learning objectives and cut out all additional materials
- Write and/or speak in a clear, concise manner avoiding big words, long sentences, and passive sentence structures
- Chunk your training into small, “bite-sized” pieces and sequence them in a logical format (especially for novices)
- Avoiding cognitive overload
- Tell stories
- Use visuals to illustrate your training point
- Provide demonstrations and then give workers opportunities to practice
- Provide helpful feedback based on that practice
- Awaken prior knowledge related to training topic
- Use metaphors, comparisons, similes, and analogies to known and/or familiar ideas, concepts, and objects
- Use examples and non-examples
- Have learners reflect on what they’re learning during and after training
- Have learners put what they’ve learned into their own words
- Give tests, even tests with no stakes or low stakes
- Use spaced learning/spaced practice
- Give training that includes opportunities for the learners to retrieve stored information from training
For more on this, check out the following:
- Learning Maximizers & Learning Myths (interview with Dr. Will Thalheimer)
- Evidence-Based Training (article)
- Learning Myths & Evidence-Based Training (recorded webinar)
- Learning Myths (article)
- How We Learn (recorded discussion with Julie Dirksen)
Tip 7: Become a Learning Organization
In our tip about HPI, we mentioned that training isn’t always the best solution to workplace performance problems. In a similar way, training can’t be the sole part of your workplace learning programs.
That’s where learning organization theory can help. A learning organization is dedicated to creating, capturing, and sharing knowledge to make organizations more flexible and adaptable and therefore more prepared to change, adapt, and react to changing times and circumstances.
For more on this, check out the following articles:
- Learning to Learn (interview with Arun Pradhan)
- Facilitating Change (interview with Arun Pradhan)
- Psychological Safety & Learning Organizations
- What Is a Learning Organization?
- Becoming a Learning Organization (interview with Michelle Ockers)
Conclusion: Improve Your Industrial Training & Learning Programs with These Tips
We hope you enjoyed this article on industrial training tips and hope you can put these into practice soon at your industrial workplace. Let us know if you have additional questions or share your own tips in the comments section below. Also, stay tuned for other articles and industrial and/or manufacturing training in the future.
Before you go, check out our free recorded webinars on related topics:
- Manufacturing Training that Works
- Selecting Online Manufacturing Training
- Implementing Lean Manufacturing & Continuous Improvement
Also, download our free Guide to Selecting Online Manufacturing training, below.
Free Selecting Online Manufacturing Training Guide Download
Download this free guide to assist you in your organization’s search for online manufacturing training, including courses, learning management systems, and providers.