Helping Workers Develop Problem-Solving Skills

Helping Workers Develop Problem-Solving Skills Image

Work is easier when everything goes perfectly and there are no problems.

But as you probably know, “perfect” is a rare state. Problems pop up from time to time and workers need to solve them.

As a result, it’s important that workers be effective problem solvers. Having a workforce with well-developed problem-solving skills is a significant competitive advantage for a company.

Obviously, that’s true with your maintenance workers. But those aren’t the only workers who benefit from strong problem-solving skills. For example, we have a customer who led a training system upgrade for a major, multi-site manufacturing company in the United States (they make common household products and odds are very good you’ve used their products). He would often tell me that he wanted to “help his machine operators become machine engineers.” (Hello to you, Steve, if you happen to be reading this.)

What our customer Steve meant by that was, at least in part, that he wanted workers to have problem-solving skills so they could address problems on their own at work to decrease downtime, increase efficiency, and maximize production.

But those problem-solving skills don’t come “built-in” to every person. And even those with a natural knack for it can always get better, or learn to apply those skills more effectively in a given work circumstance. And as a result, it’s a good idea to provide resources to help workers develop and use problem-solving skills at work. That’s what this article will focus on.
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How an LMS Can Simplify New Employee Safety Onboarding

New Employee Safety Onboarding and LMSs Image

If you’re in Safety or EHS, you know it’s important to deliver safety onboarding training to new hires. And that’s true if an experienced worker is moving to a new site, work area, or into a new role as well.

But you also probably know that delivering safety onboarding comes with a number of challenges. It’s hard to have time available every time a new worker is hired, and that doesn’t even account for having time every time someone moves from Site A to Site B, or from Production to Warehouse, or from Forklift Operator to Machine Tender.

Plus you’ve got to create all the appropriate safety training materials for new employees, and in addition for site-specific safety training, work area-specific safety training, job-role specific safety training, and special task-specific safety training too.

And of course you’ve got to actually KNOW that a new employee has been hired, or that someone has been transferred from Topeka to your site in Memphis, or from Converting to Production. We may all like to say that communications where we work are perfect, and that we’re all informed of events like these, but I’m pretty sure you’d quickly agree that’s not always the case.

So, in a nutshell, there are lots of reasons why it’s difficult to provide safety onboarding for new hires and job transfers.

That’s where an online system that includes a learning management system (LMS) can pay dividends. You can think of an LMS as an automated assistant that can coordinate all this stuff for you. Kind of a safety onboarding auto-pilot system.

So if you’re in the market for an LMS, and want to be able to use it for safety onboarding along with other safety/EHS training, we’ll give you an idea of some of the features you should want.

NOTE: This article will focus on providing safety training as part of an onboarding process. For a fuller discussion of onboarding as a whole, please see our companion article Onboarding New Employees: Why and How to Do It.
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The 70/20/10 Model for Workforce Learning & Development: How to Help Workers Improve Learning & Performance at Your Work

70/20/10 Workplace Learning Model Image

Have you heard of the 70/20/10 model as it’s used in workforce learning & development? It’s also sometimes called the 3 E’s (for Experience, Exposure, and Education), and two of the three parts of 70/20/10 (the 70 and 20) are often combined and referred to as informal learning.

Quite a few of you probably have heard of this idea–it’s a buzzword in L&D these days–but it’s possible that others haven’t.

In this post, we’ll briefly explain what the 70/20/10 model is, give you some ideas of how to use it, and explain a few reasons why.

We’re also curious to hear your own experiences and thoughts (as always), so don’t forget to leave your comments below.
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How to Write Better Smile Sheets: What’s Wrong With Traditional Training Evaluation Forms and How to Make Them Better

Smile-Sheet-GraphicIf you’re in training, you’re probably familiar with the sheets that trainers pass out to learners after a training session, asking the learners to evaluate the training session and the trainer.

These are known by a variety of names. Maybe you call them training-evaluation forms, or student-response forms, or trainee-reaction forms. But they’re also commonly–maybe most commonly–known as smile sheets.

Why smile sheets? Because it’s common for the learners attending training to give the training/trainer high scores that make everyone smile. But the common assumption is that the trainees do that politely, kindly, quickly, uncritically, and without giving any great thought. And so the term smile sheet is generally used somewhat dismissively, with the assumption that the information they contain doesn’t really provide a lot of value. Or, they’re assumed to hold much valuable information, even if that’s not really true due to poor design.

And yet, quite a few trainers continue to use smile sheets, and many of those trainers do nothing to improve them. Maybe they’ve never even thought of improving their smile sheets. It’s all become a bit of a habit to them, one they don’t think about because there’s so much else to think about, worry about, and to do.

I recently read a very good book called Performance-Focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Rethinking of a Dangerous Art Form by Dr. Will Thalheimer. The book explains some of the common problems with smile sheets, but also gives some very helpful tips to help make them better. We definitely suggest that you buy and read the book, and we’ve included a bunch of information to help you do that at the bottom of this article.

But for now, let’s look at some of the general points Thalheimer makes in his book and see what we can learn from them.

If you’re extra curious on this topic, I recommend you check out our interview with Dr. Thalheimer on smile sheets after you read this introduction.
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On-Demand Webinar: Developing Effective Safety Training

Developing Effective Safety Training Webinar Image

Want to know the hidden secret to developing effective safety training materials?

Actually, there’s no hidden secret. But there ARE some well-known, tried-and-true methods, and they’re documented in ANSI Z490.1, the national standard of Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health, and Environmental Training.

In this 30-minute, recorded, on-demand webinar, we introduce you to ANSI Z490.1, and focus on four aspects of developing effective EHS training that Z490.1 calls out:

  • Writing learning objectives that pass the ABCD and SMART tests
  • Using a blended learning solution for safety training and selecting training delivery methods based on the need for “adequate feedback”
  • Tips for developing effective safety training, including using credible information sources and following some best practices of instructional design
  • Evaluating safety training using Kirkpatrick’s four-level evaluation method

If you want to get started listening, go right ahead, just click the “READ MORE” button and listen and watch/listen away.

Also, know that we’ve got a series of related helpful links for you below the webinar video, and we’ve also included our helpful Guide to Effective EHS Training as a free download below that, too (that’s the guide that we talk about during the webinar).

Enjoy!
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What Is Lean? Introducing Employees to Lean Manufacturing

What Is Lean Manufacturing Image

So you’re thinking of adopting lean manufacturing at your workplace, huh?

But what will you tell employees and managers? How will you explain lean to them?

In this article, we’ve got some ideas, suggestions, and tools for you to use. We think these can help you introduce lean to rank and file employees and managers. Then you can go on to get into these ideas in more detail and to introduce more ideas over time.

Also, check out the bottom of this article, where we’ve provided a FREE “5 Princples of Lean Manufacturing” infographic you can download.

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Helping Workers Acquire Basic Job Skills and Perform Standard Procedures

Teaching Workers Basic Job Skills and Procedures Image

In every job, there’s a set of basic skills and simple procedures that a worker filling that job has to learn to perform.

For an organization to perform at peak efficiency, it’s important that the workers in each job role know how to perform each of these skills and procedures.

But how does a company go about teaching those basic skills and procedures? How can employers help workers develop these skills and knowledge quickly and efficiently? And how does the company know if the workers can perform those procedures?

That’s what we’re going to look at in this article.
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Free Surface Mine Physical Environment Interactive Glossary

We’ve been revamping our mining safety training e-learning library, in case you didn’t know.

What does that mean? Well, we’ve added a BUNCH of new courses, for one thing. We’ve spruced up older titles, adding new information when relevant and improving our graphics (our 3D animation capabilities become more and more impressive every year). And we’ve broken some of the courses up into shorter, more “bite-sized” learning activities to make them easier to watch and more effective learning experiences.

One of the courses we’ve updated is our General Physical Characteristics of Surface Mines (great for Part 46 New Miner and Annual Refresher, by the way). To show that off a bit and give you a free training resource, we’ve taken some of the terms, definitions, and images from that course and made the free interactive glossary below.

There are two ways you can enjoy this free resource. The first is to just play it here from our blog. You can do that any time you wish. The second is to download your own free copy and then import it into your SCORM-compliant LMS. We’ve included more information about that second option below.
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Training that Helps Employees Learn Basic Job Knowledge

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As a producer of learning management systems (LMSs) that are designed to let you to use a variety of different training delivery methods in a blended learning solution, we give a lot of thought to how employers can create the “best” blend.

Actually, we don’t think there’s any one simple answer to that question that you can apply every time. There are various ways to look at it, and each make sense in different circumstances.

However, one idea that we’re big fans of when creating a blended learning solution is to select the training delivery method (example–e-learning, written, video, field-based OJT, instructor-led classroom training, etc.) by considering the type of training material (the information) that you’re trying to convey, and/or the employee’s need for practice and feedback during training.

We’ve introduced that method of creating a blended learning solution in an earlier article. In this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at one aspect of the blend–training that’s designed to help employees acquire base-level, foundational knowledge that doesn’t require a lot of practice or feedback.

In other related articles, we’ve addressed training to help employees learn to basic job skills and procedures and training to help employees develop advanced job skills.
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How to Write Multiple-Choice Questions for Workforce Training

writing-mc-test-questions-for-online-training-activities-imageA lot of you write test questions for online training. Or even paper-based tests you’re still delivering the old-fashioned way (good on you!).

Maybe you’re doing it with an eLearning authoring tool, such as the ones from Articulate, Adobe, or Lectora.  Or maybe the learning management system (LMS) you use at work has a built in tool for creating online quizzes.

No matter how you’re writing tests for training, you may sometimes find yourself wondering about the best practices for writing standard question types. (By the way, instructional designers often use the wonky phrases “assessment” for a test and “assessment item” for a question within a test.)

We’ve got a few of those best practices for you below. Hope this helps you with your question writin’. 🙂
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Free Paper Manufacturing Interactive Glossary

free interactive paper manufacturing glossary

Here’s a cool interactive glossary of terms commonly used in the papermaking industry. Watch it here as many times as you want whenever you want. Or you can even download a free copy for yourself.

We’ve focused on some basics, and drew the images, terms, and definitions from two of our paper manufacturing e-learning courses: Pulping and Papermaking Overview and Introduction to Paper and Board Machines.

Of course, these are just two of MANY paper manufacturing titles we offer, but it’s a nice place to begin.

Hope you enjoy this glossary. Don’t forget to check out our paper manufacturing e-learning library while you’re here, too, or even download our two free guides to training in the paper manufacturing industry: Paper Manufacturing Training–the Basics and The Guide to Online Training for Paper Manufacturing.

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10 Reasons to Consider Online Safety Training: Case Studies + Examples

10 Benefits of Online Training Guide Image

Many work places use quite a bit of online training for EHS training, while others still haven’t made the online plunge.

If you’re not using it now, and perhaps are on the fence, you should know that there are plenty of reasons to use online EHS training for a safer workplace. Online training has proven itself, showing it can make training itself more effective in many instances; that it can reduce the cost of training (especially for large workforces or workforces that are spread over a great distance); that it can greatly reduce the time, effort, and cost necessary to administer training; and that it can provide a welcome element of variety to training for employees.

Read on for more reasons to consider adding an online aspect to your current EHS training program.

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