How to avoid common pitfalls in engineering training programmes

Neil Lewin, senior consultant at Festo Training & Consulting

(Credit: This is Engineering)
(Credit: This is Engineering)

Training programmes need to be engaging and relevant while they are taking place, because otherwise you just won’t learn, says Neil Lewin, senior consultant at Festo Training & Consulting.

When a business puts time and money into training and development, it’s important to set goals and measure success, so that you can prove return on investment. But perhaps most importantly for both a business and their people, training must always lead to long-term, sustainable change in the workplace. 

As a manufacturer ourselves, as well as trainers, we see many instances where training has failed to deliver the required impact. Here are the most common pitfalls to avoid that lead to ineffective or unsustainable training:

1 Training needs to be practised 

While traditional classroom-based learning still has a place, it’s no longer enough to sit a whole team down in a room and subject them to generic, one-size-fits-all training that is then never used. We know that 50% of knowledge gained via training is lost within weeks if it is not immediately put into practice. Ensure your training is applied quickly when back on the job.

2 Make training relevant

Training must be relevant and useful to every individual. Make sure training programmes are pitched at the right skill level for the audience. Too basic and it will feel pointless, too advanced and people will get lost quickly and lose interest. As an individual, it’s also your responsibility to check that any training is right for you and speak up if it isn’t. Start by assessing existing skills and then demonstrate the gaps. 

3 Engage people

As a manager, you might have done all the planning, identified the gaps and measured the impact that training could and should have. But if your people aren’t engaged from an early stage, they can take the need for training as a personal criticism of their skills. Involve your team as early on in the process as possible, explain what you are doing and talk to them about their preferences and what they need. As a team member, if you are feeling disengaged with your training then you need to step up, ask questions and tell people what you need.

4 Hold everyone to account

You’ll be measured on the return on investment for training. Every member of the team needs to play their part with personal as well as team targets. These targets should be included in individual personal objectives, so that everyone is held accountable at appraisals.

5 Celebrate success

A good manager always shares the news, and the credit, with their team when an objective is achieved or a major landmark reached. Acknowledging everyone’s contribution will keep people feeling recognised, improve team morale and increase productivity. 

6 Top up training

The importance of lifelong learning cannot be stressed enough. People leave organisations owing to lack of development, so training is vital for retention. It’s also important for career progression and staying up to date with the latest technology. Improving skills and performance is an ongoing activity. People change positions, new people might join the team, and new equipment comes on stream. So training needs to be regularly topped up.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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