The Painless Training Management Handbook
Why read this guide?
Across most industries and in most countries, following a rigorous protocol regarding heath and safety and/or environmental practices is not only responsible and humanitarian, but also an absolute requirement by insurance, government and standards boards. Unfortunately, getting new hires up to speed and maintaining staff awareness and compliance with your standards, especially across a large number of employees and/or locations can be time-consuming, expensive and frustrating for all involved.
A well-developed training management plan, supported by the right tools and oriented towards your specific set of requirements, practices, and industry norms makes all the difference. This guide will help you understand your training management options and how they will benefit you.
Who is this for?
Leaders and employees in organizations with specific requirements regarding health, environment and safety practices will benefit from this handbook. Specifically:
-Human Resources Professionals looking to update or identify the best way to train staff on health and safety or environmental best-practices and procedures.
-Training Professionals and Consultants looking for tools and systems to improve learner outcomes.
-Leaders and key decision makers of organizations looking to reduce risk and optimize efficiency and employee safety and understanding.
-Employees concerned about their workplace or occupational environment and health and safety practices, and in search of a better way to learn.
-Organizations with a large and/or decentralized workforce who need to ensure all employees are trained consistently and comprehensively.
What is training management?
Training management is the activities, strategies and tools that support learning. Often, though not always, a subsection of the human resources discipline, training management is the practice of bringing new employees up to speed with knowledge and expectations they need to be aware of, and maintaining awareness in existing employees. Competency management - closely related - focuses on broader skill-sets and identifying where gaps need to be filled for best outcomes.
Since we live in the digital age, the best solutions incorporate competency management or training management software to automate data-intensive steps, enhance the learner's experience, keep track of details and enhance overall efficiency.
Software and plans offer various methodologies and expert learning approaches to optimize learner outcomes, such as:
-Safety simulation exercises to help learners deepen their understanding of practical applications.
-Online safety training to ensure consistency and optimize clarity and presentation of content that is available at any time and from any location.
-Continuous learning plan with automated alerts, reminders and content reviews to keep everyone and everything up-to-date and on track.
-Gamification with user stats, badges or challenges to stimulate engagement with learning material.
-Customization by employee, role, location or other criteria to make sure learning material is appropriate to each learner.
-Video, multi-media and interactive training facilitated for better learner engagement with the material.
-Competency management to identify, track and update employee skills, traits, accreditation and performance.
-Dashboards and automated reports to track and visualize various desired outcomes (or KPI: key performance indicators) such as learning progress, qualifications and compliance.
Training management software can facilitate and improve on a number of activities including:
-New employee on-boarding
-Continuing professional development (CPD)
-Employee continuous performance management and performance reviews
-Maintaining current and comprehensive employee resume detail such as certifications and courses
-Matching and managing crews based on up-to-date employee data
-Initial or continuous safety training, health or environment training, or other unique training requirements
How do I choose the right match?
The right plan and training or competency management software for your needs will take into account what you need employees to learn, know and do, how your organization operates, communicates and interacts, and what constraints or challenges you face. See "How do I get started" below for more on understanding these requirements. Once you have a clear understanding of your needs, goals and constraints, you can starting looking at where to focus your search. You might lean more towards overall competency management, or simply zero in on safety training for the time being.
How do I know it's working?
Successful outcomes are as critically important, as they are customized to each organization. The difference between a painful and a painless training management plan lies in the outcome. Is your environment, health and safety training resulting in less accidents? Do new employees know what they're responsible for and expected to do, both on a day-to-day basis, and in critical environmental, health and safety scenarios? Are you fielding fines and confrontations over errors, omissions and mistakes, or cruising along without a hitch? Are your insurance claims - and premiums! - going up, or are you negotiating lower fees based on an impeccable record?
Of course, while these are all great indicators that your training management software and plan are successful, they may not be easy indicators to keep track of and understand in the short term, or on a regular basis. That's why training management software offers built-in features like at-a-glance dashboards and automated reports that take the KPI or outcomes that matter to you, and put them at your fingertips. Instant feedback, and the power to understand where you're at and when to take action. With the right KPI, you'll be able to understand if you have the right people on the job, if they're up-to-date on their safety training and other key competencies, and where there's a gap that you can take action to fill, before there's a mistake or a crisis to clean up.
How do I get started?
As with other areas of business practice, the clearer and more focused your plan is, the better your success.
The first step in achieving painless training is to identify your goal. Simply; what do your employees need to know? Your answer will come from a few different sources:
-Insurance provider: are there any requirements that will affect your policy rate or premium?
-Government policy and business license:
-Company (Organizational) culture or identity:
The second step is to identify any challenges. These can be based on what's slowed you down or caused pain in the past, or could be related to the type of employees you have. Considerations like amount of time (efficiency) and funds spent (cost-effectiveness) may also be listed as challenges or constraints. Make a list of any reasons that you haven't had or followed a training management plan in the past, or why training isn't meeting your expectations.
If you find these steps challenging, not to worry! Training management companies and consultants specialize in helping you answer these questions and identify your path to success. Once you understand your goal and objectives (the list of things you need to train staff in) and where training plans have failed in the past, or are likely to fail, you're more than halfway there. What remains is simply to compare available tools and practices against your criteria (goals and challenges). If a tool doesn't help you meet your goals and solve your challenges at the same time, it's not a good match. When it helps your employees learn and remain in compliance with requirements, and even saves you time and money, you'll know you've found the right match.
You're almost there, but there's one more thing left before you're finished. Checking your results to make sure the plan and tools are giving you the right results is an important part of choosing a training approach and tools. The right training plan will come with a set of targets (often called KPI - Key Performance Indicators) and a way of ensuring competency management is in place. Simply, you'll want to know that your employees know and do the stuff that they were supposed to have learned. Now you can sit back and enjoy the benefits of a fully-compliant, effective and painless training management program!
Incident Investigations Explained
Incident investigations are a necessary component of any organization dealing with specific environmental, health and safety related tasks. Effective incident investigation will not only identify, document, and influence a solution, the right approach will push past surface-level causes and solutions to get at information that can help you avoid future incidents and, by extension, accidents and time and money lost.
This guide offers insight into incident investigation methodologies such as root cause analysis and the 5 Whys approach, benefits, applications and solutions, including incident management software and incident reporting software that support better outcomes for you and your employees.
A methodology is how you think about, understand and resolve the root cause of an incident. While incident management software and and incident reporting software greatly support the process, the right methodology must first be selected and implemented. Some common incident investigation methodologies, some of which are closely related, include:
-Systemic Model: Focuses on the systems and processes of the organization culture and leadership to understand accident causes as mismatches or failures between those components.
-Epidemiological Model: From the medical term for the spread of disease, this methodology investigates accidents as emanating from hidden failures across all organizational components, including management, procedure and design.
-Sequence-of-Events (Domino) Model: Understands accidents as a continuous set of failures that set off a chain reaction.
-TOP-SET Root Cause Analysis: Follows a relationship diagramming discipline that asks "Why?" as relates to three types of causes (Immediate, Underlying and Root) to build a tree/funnel investigation leading to the root cause
-5 Whys Approach: The 5 Whys approach recommends asking the question "Why" repeatedly, starting with why the incident occurred and taking each answer as the start to the next question, to push past surface causes and identify systemic root causes. It is important to avoid getting stuck with other questions (who, what, how) in order to successfully reach past simplistic answers and reach the root causes. Note that the 5 Whys methodology may involve more or less than five iterations in practice. This approach can be used jointly with any of the other methodologies, as it has the potential to reach into a variety of causal factors including systems, processes, organization culture and leadership decisions. It is also easily understood and applied.
Applying the right methodology, understanding the applicable causal factors and performing effective root cause analysis can create immediate and long-term benefits for your organization. There are several challenges or barriers to incident investigation that can get in the way of understanding the cause of an accident or incident and finding solutions. Perspectives or methodologies can influence a predisposition to a rigid understanding of causal factors. For instance, it's common to understand all incidents as having been caused by a familiar culprit - most often this is recorded as human error. While humans are indeed inevitably implicated somewhere along the chain of events, this fails to adequately understand the longer-term, more far-reaching causes and from there, misses the opportunity to adjust course. Rigorous root cause analysis pushes on simple answers to investigate if there are additional causes that can be addressed.
Additionally, an organization's culture or leadership can influence root cause analysis. It is human nature to avoid blame, and employees may feel afraid to point out personal, leadership and system risks or failures if they feel that it will hurt them. This can be mitigated by making sure leadership - from the very highest levels - engages with the incident investigation and demonstrates commitment to understanding and addressing problems, while making it advantageous for staff and leaders to expose risks and failures instead of concealing them.
Creating an environment where taking the steps necessary to reach beyond the easiest, most obvious cause(s) to reach the root cause is encouraged will benefit your organization. You will create a strong organization culture of trust, safety and responsibility, and potential incidents will be identified long before they can occur. When incidents do happen, you will be able to come to a clear understanding of their cause without shame and blame-avoidance clouding the issue, and from there, you will be able to take effective steps to avoid not only a repeat incident, but the many related incidents that could have stemmed from root causes hidden up the system stream.
Incident reporting software and incident management software can help by ensuring that effective methodologies are applied in a rigorous, simple and accessible framework. These can challenge expectations or 'easy answers' to expand the perspective son causal factors, gather actionable data to aid in root cause analysis, and aid in communicating and document the steps needed to correct any failures or risks.
A couple scenarios to illustrate how effectively identifying root causes can influence outcomes:
-Workplace injury: A warehouse employee is injured stacking boxes. A human-error causation response could be that the employee exceeded recommended heights when stacking the boxes. A lack of training, or too long between training is blamed. A systematic methodology following the 5 Whys might ask why the employee was stacking boxes dangerously high. It turns out that the contents were higher density and not distributed evenly, so the edges of the boxes collapsed. Why wasn't the packaging more sturdy? This was a new product formulation, and production used packaging on hand. Why didn't production test packaging before shipping? Production took longer than expected. Why wasn't there time for comprehensive testing? Production was understaffed due to summer vacation time. Why were multiple team members approved for vacation time at once? Vacations are approved by a line manager at his discretion, without a system to enforce regulations. Now you've gone from increasing the regularity of safety training sessions for all warehouse staff to recognizing risk areas in shipping packaging quality and design, production quality assurance compliance and scheduling processes and tools.
-Environmental spill: In a 'near-miss' scenario, now that you've created an open environment of trust and responsible, no-fault reporting, an employee submits a risk alert identifying a materials production irregularity. The irregularity coincided with manufacture of pipeline joins for a renewal project. The irregularity could cause a reduction in flexibility and effective seal or fit on the pipeline join, turning brittle in cold temperatures. The renewal project is taking place in a northern location, and could have resulted in a spill once the ground freezes, but you are able to restart production, manufacture replacement parts, and ship them to the site with only a week's delay. Your employee could have been afraid to say something because the replacement cost you money in manufacturing and construction time, and reflected poorly on their department and their supervisor's quality control, but your consistent commitment to responsible incident management and your no-fault reporting system gave them the confidence to alert you to a risk and save you massive damages and a PR nightmare down the road.
Understanding causal factors, incident investigation methodologies, root cause analysis approaches will help you implement the right solution for your environment, health and safety needs. Incident management software and incident reporting software help you keep your approach consistent, insightful, data-driven, up-to-date and effective. These tools support your process and approach by facilitating step-by-step processes to collect data about an incident or 'near-miss' incident (risk), ask and answer the questions that drive root cause analysis, and identify and assign mitigation steps to address risk. When using incident management software and incident reporting software, a key benefit is the access to automated reporting, at-a-glance dashboards and insights supported by data visualizations that will help you stay on top of incident investigations in progress, identify trends, respond and resolve, and address risks before an incident can occur.