Helping Workers Develop Problem-Solving Skills

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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.

All workers 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 the 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.

In addition to this article, also feel free to check out our article on Continuous Improvement at Work, as problem-solving is also a big part of continuous improvement and that article provides a long list of tips to help with problem-solving and continuous improvement.
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Free Recorded Webinar: Online Facilities Maintenance Training Program Case Study with Customer CBRE

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We recently co-presented a webinar with our facilities maintenance customer CBRE about a partnership in which we worked together to create online facilities maintenance training courses and help them put together a robust maintenance tech training program.

Here’s the recording of that webinar. Feel free to check it out and ask us any questions you may have.

Also, before you leave this page, scroll down to the bottom and download our free Guide to Online Facilities Maintenance Training.

Thanks to our partners at CBRE–we’re looking forward to entering phase 2 of this project with you soon.

Watch our recorded Facilities Maintenance Online Training Program Case Study webinar online at our Webinars page. 

Here’s the free guide, too–don’t forget to download it today.

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Free Guide to Facilities Maintenance Online Training

Download this free guide to learn everything you need to know about putting together a best-in-class facilities maintenance training program, including online training.

Download Free Guide

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What Is a Learning Objective?

Instructional Design Basics

 

[This is the the first in a series of posts about learning objectives. We’ve now compiled all the posts into a single downloadable guide to writing learning objectives if you want to check that out.]

If you’re new to the learning and training world, you may not yet know what a learning objective is.

To put it simply, a learning objective describes what the learners should be able to do after they complete your training materials. In many cases, you’ll probably have a series of learning objectives instead of just one.

The point of a learning objective is that you’re holding training for a larger, more general reason–to help your organization achieve some goal. And employees need to learn to perform tasks on the job to help the organization achieve that goal. And your training should help employees learn to perform those tasks, and therefore help the organization achieve that goal.

You should create your learning objectives before creating your training content. Use the information you gathered during the Training Needs Assessment and the Analysis (or first) phase of the ADDIE instructional design process to create your objectives.

We’ll explain more below and will provide links to even more information about learning objectives, including how to write them, tests to see if they’re written well, different types of learning objectives for different types of learning, and key thinkers in the development of the idea of learning objectives.

There’s even a great free guide to writing learning objectives at the bottom you can download. 

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10 Reasons to Create Learning Objectives for Job Training and Performance Improvement

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We’re going to start this article assuming you know what a learning objective is. If you don’t, check out our What Is a Learning Objective? article or this free downloadable guide to writing learning objectives first.

And now that we’ve got that covered, in this article we will present some reasons why you should use learning objectives when you create training materials.

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How to Write SMART Learning Objectives

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[This is the the third in a series of posts about learning objectives. We’ve now compiled all the posts into a single downloadable guide to writing learning objectives if you want to check that out, PLUS check out our Introduction to Learning Objectives recorded discussion with learning researcher Dr. Patti Shank.]

As a kid, I loved the campy TV detective show “Get Smart.”

Now that I’m an adult and work as an instructional designer, I still like to get smart. Except now I get SMART when creating learning objective for workforce training and performance improvement.

We’ll discuss the importance of learning objectives and explain teh SMART test for learning objectives below.

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Robert Mager’s Performance-Based Learning Objectives

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You don’t have to read up on learning objectives for too long before you run into the name of Robert Mager and hear about his performance-based learning objectives. These are also sometimes called three-part learning objectives, behavioral learning objectives, or criteria-based learning objectives.

This isn’t necessarily the only way to write learning objectives. Smart people have continued to think about training and the development of learning objectives since Mager’s time, after all.

But even though there are other schools of thought about learning objectives, what Mager had to say is still solid advice in many cases.

Mager outlines his theory about the best way to create learning objectives in his classic book Preparing Instructional Objectives. You can read our review of Preparing Instructional Objectives if you’re interested, and we highly recommend reading the book, which is informative, quick, and fun. Oh, and here’s a free online version of Mager’s book for you!

Otherwise, here’s the crux of what Mager has to say, below. When you’re done with this article, you might also be interested in our recorded discussion with learning researcher & instructional designer Dr. Patti Shank on Writing Performance-Based Learning Objectives (she calls them “performance objectives” because she focuses so much on job performance).

And hey, since you may be here because you’re interested in Robert Mager’s work, and also because people interested in learning objectives may also be interested in performance analysis, don’t forget to check out our article about Robert Mager’s Performance Analysis book and flow-chart, which is one of the seminal works in the field of human performance improvement, or HPI.

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ABCD: The Four Parts of a Learning Objective

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[This is the fourth in a series of posts about learning objectives. We’ve now compiled all the posts into a single downloadable guide to writing learning objectives PLUS you can check out our Introduction to Learning Objectives recorded discussion with learning researcher Dr. Patti Shank.]

A simple way to make sure you’re building a useful learning objective is to use the ABCD method. Each letter in ABCD stands for a different part of your learning objective. These different parts answer four questions about your objective: who, what, how, and how well.

We’ll spell it all out for you below. Then you can use this information to create better learning activities as part of your workforce training program (or similar learning program).

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The Voice of the Customer in Lean Manufacturing

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A critical element of lean manufacturing is listening to, understanding, acting on, and aligning your actions with the voice of the customer.

This makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. Remind yourself what lean manufacturing is all about–it’s about removing waste so you can create the most value as measured by what the customer is willing to pay for, right?

But you can’t create the most value for your customer if you’re not aware of the true voice of the customer, right?

Read on to learn more.

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Microlearning: 3 Uses

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In a recent recorded discussion, we talked with Michael Schreiner, the VP of Content at Vector Solutions (our parent company) about their recent, award-winning microlearning conversion & creation process. If you’re interested in that, check out our Microlearning at Vector Solutions recorded discussion.

In this article, we’re going to expand on that discussion, explaining what microlearning is and giving a few common and effective uses for microlearning.

Contact us if you have any questions, share your own thoughts, suggestions, and experiences in the comments section below, and have a great day!

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Microlearning at Vector Solutions

Not that long ago, our parent company Vector Solutions undertook a large project to convert some existing courses into microlearning courses that their RedVector customers could use. Very cool.

Even cooler, that microlearning project won a prestigious Award for Excellence in Learning award from Brandon-Hall. Which we’re proud of–congrats to all involved.

In this interview, Vector Solutions Vice President of Content Michael Schreiner will talk with Jeff Dalto of Convergence Training & Vector Solutions about microlearning, what it is, why there’s so much talk about it these days, why it’s useful in training, some common uses of it, about the conversion project itself, and most importantly about how Vector Solutions/RedVector customers can access these microlearning courses.

If you’re a Vector Solutions customer and want to use these microlearning courses, begin by getting our RedVector Go app.

Enjoy and let us know if you have any questions!

 

Here are some resources related to topics Michael brought up in this conversation:

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LMS Bascis: Can You Assign and Track a Webinar for Training in an LMS?

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Webinars and virtual classrooms (sometimes referred to together as “live online learning“) have always been a viable part of an organization’s training delivery options. But with COVID-19, the need for social distancing, and a lot of workers working and receiving training from home, webinars and virtual classrooms are being used more and more for workforce training.

That’s led some organizations to wonder about how webinars can work with learning management systems (LMS) and, in particular, whether you can use an LMS to assign webinars, grant credit to workers for completing webinars, and store records for those employee completion records after webinars have been conducted.

Short answer: yes. We’ll explain more in the article below.

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Preventive Maintenance to Improve Safety, Quality & Efficiency

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Maintenance programs in general, and preventive maintenance programs in particular, have obvious benefits in terms of keeping equipment running properly and preventing downtime. This brings an equally obvious benefit to operational efficiency and it decreases costs and waste as well.

But these aren’t the only benefits that come with a well-designed preventive maintenance program. If you’re practicing preventive maintenance at your facility instead of simply relying on reactive maintenance, you’ll see safety and quality improvements as well.

We’ll explain the benefits to efficiency, safety, and quality you’ll gain from practicing preventive maintenance further in this brief article.

Let us know if you need any help with the maintenance training at your facility as you try to improve your maintenance program and perhaps begin practice preventive maintenance yourself.

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