Training and Assessing Workbook - Train the Trainer manual
Section 1: A background to training and learning
- 1.1 What is the role of a workplace trainer?
- 1.2 Is the role of the workplace trainer in Disability Employment Services different to that in other workplaces?
- 1.3 What skills and abilities do workplace trainers need to have?
- 1.4 Is workplace training only about attending courses?
- 1.5 Is it important to know how each supported employee prefers to learn?
- 1.6 What are adult learning principles?
- 1.7 How do learning styles influence training?
- 1.8 What are some barriers to learning?
- 1.9 Is training always the answer?
- 1.10 What is competency?
- 1.11 What is competency-based training?
- 1.12 Is training usually a 'one-off' event or is it continuous?
- 1.13 Does training need to relate to the business goals?
As a supervisor or team leader in a Disability Employment Service working with supported employees you have a role as a workplace trainer. You assist supported employees learn the skills and knowledge required to do their work. This involves recognising skill or knowledge deficiencies, deciding if training will help and providing training if needed. It sounds simple, but it requires considerable skill to provide effective training.
1.2 Is the role of the workplace trainer in Disability Employment Services different to that in other workplaces?
Generally, in Disability Employment Services the workplace trainer provides support to employees to assist the service meet:
- strategic business objectives. Strategic objectives are the aims and targets the business has set for a period of time, for example over a financial year. These objectives impact on the production targets and activities for each part of the business. For example, the business may have set its profit at $100,000 for this financial year. To help achieve this, your team has a production target of 5,000 units per year, which means 500 units per week for each of the 50 weeks of operation. Your role is to provide supported employees with the continuous training needed to reach that target.
- the 12 Disability Services Standards. There are quality assurance and continuous improvement guidelines to guide Disability Employment Services' performance. For example, Standard 10 requires that the employment opportunities of each person with disability are optimised by effective and relevant training and support. Copies of the Continuous Improvement Handbook and the Quality Assurance Handbook will be available from your manager or the FaCSIA website.
All workplace trainers are different but there are some common skills and traits that all successful trainers have, including:
- respect for the learner
- good communication skills
- subject knowledge.
Effective trainers also have the ability to:
- provide clear instructions
- break larger tasks into smaller components
- demonstrate tasks clearly.
It is essential to understand the impact some disabilities can have on the supported employee's capacity to retain skills and knowledge.
Remember your first time at work or in a new job. Think about the people who helped you most.
How did they help?
Did they pace the information they gave you so that there wasn't information overload? If so, how did they do this?
Did they only tell you the most important information first and deliver the other information later? If so, how did this help you?
Does this have any influence on how you might train in the workplace? If yes, how?
Attending courses or workshops may be part of a supported employee's training but most training is on-the-job and provided by the team leader or supervisor.
Workplace training is about ensuring supported employees in your workplace are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to complete the work they are employed to do safely and to the organisation's standard. In some circumstances this may mean that training will be off-the-job, in a classroom or as part of an excursion. Classroom-based training needs to be relevant to the work of supported employees and there should be opportunity for the supported employees to practise the skills and knowledge soon after the off-site training.
Yes, it always helps to have some understanding of an adult's learning preferences. It can help make training in the workplace easier and more effective.
Adults learn more effectively if they:
- know why they should learn something
- think it is important to gain a new skill, more knowledge or change an attitude Preferences
- can decide what they want to learn
- have some control over the pace of learning
- can link their past experience with the new skills and experience they are learning
- have a job or task they want to complete using the newly acquired skills or knowledge.
For a trainer, this means ensuring supported employees have a context for the learning. For example, supported employees will want to:
- know why they are being trained
- see the link between the training and the successful completion of their work
- have input into what they are going to learn
- be able to control the speed at which the new training is provided
- see how the training fits with and builds on existing skills and knowledge
- know that the training is relevant to the work they are doing.
There are some general learning styles that appear to work well with supported employees such as using visual aids, such as photographs or posters, and providing opportunity to practise. Having information about learning preferences can help you best design and deliver training.
Being aware of a supported employee's preferred learning style doesn't mean styles that all training provided to that person will be the same. It does mean that if you know a supported employee prefers to think about an activity before demonstrating it to you, you will need to allow sufficient time during the training session. If a supported employee prefers to see pictures and diagrams, consider integrating those elements into the training session.
Training will also be more effective if the different learning styles are catered for. Learning styles relate to the way people like to learn. Some people prefer to:
- be active rather than reflective
- have visual information rather than verbal information
- be given information in parts rather than all at once.
Some ideas for training supported employees who prefer to be active:
- Involve them in problem-solving, demonstrating and trying new methods.
- Have opportunities for them to interact with other people during training.
- Provide opportunities for them to discuss the training and what is happening.
Some ideas for training supported employees who prefer to be reflective:
- Ensure they have the opportunity to watch other people completing the task.
- Provide sufficient time for them to think about and practise the new task.
- Allow plenty of time for questions.
It also helps to be aware of the barriers to learning that some supported employees may experience. Barriers may be:
- attitude related – the person does not want to be trained or is not ready for training
- workplace-related – the training is not sufficiently relevant or timely for the supported employee Barriers
- ability to concentrate
- poor language skills
- work pressure
- previous experience with training
- the training environment may be physically uncomfortable
- reluctance to change.
These barriers may be reduced by:
- talking about the training objectives with the supported employee
- recognising the possible effects of medication or tiredness
- considering alternative ways to provide the training
- knowing when to make adjustments to maintain interest and involvement
- ensuring the training environment is as physically comfortable as practicable
- being patient and explaining why the training in a new way is required and beneficial.
Recognising when solutions other than training are required is an important part of a workplace trainer's role. For example, there may be management issues, behaviours of work colleagues or supervisors or occupational health and safety issues that act as barriers to a supported employee's readiness for learning.
While training can assist if there is a lack of skills, abilities or knowledge, it cannot help if there are other issues such as insufficient resources or information. Before deciding whether training is a solution, ensure that supported employees have:
- a good understanding of what is expected of them in the workplace
- sufficient resources to complete their work
- an understanding of their performance measures such as quality and quantity
- an awareness of the rewards and consequences of their work performance.
Training is not always the solution. Look at the whole picture -the individual, the team and the business before making a decision about providing training.
Mango Magic is a tropical fruit packing service. Growers bring their product to the service where it is packed for distribution to specialty fruit shops in Europe. Fortunately everyone seems to love mangoes and the other exotic fruits. Demand is rising and Mango Magic has employed three new supported employees who need to be trained as quickly as possible.
Andrea is the team leader and it is part of her job to train the new employees. She hasn't met the employees yet but wants to start putting a training program together.
Based on your information about learning preferences, what could Andrea do to start preparing for the new supported employees' training?
With little information about the learning preferences of the new employees, how could Andrea begin to prepare the training session?
- Visual aids such as correct samples, diagrams and posters are useful.
- Talking to other people who have worked with supported employees can be a source of good information.
- Be aware of each supported employee's learning preferences.
- Focus on each supported employee's learning strengths.
- Remember that each supported employee brings experience to the training.
Competency is the skill, knowledge, ability or behaviour associated with performance. In the workplace, competency can relate to:
- technical competency -the knowledge, technical abilities and skills required to complete work satisfactorily
- behavioural competency -such as communication skills or interpersonal skills.
Workplace training should be competency-based. It should relate to competencies that are observable, measurable and linked to workplace performance.
Competency-based training in a Disability Employment Service is about providing each supported employee with the skills and knowledge to be able to perform their work competently and, to the standard expected by the service. It requires you to know the standards of performance required to complete a task or set of tasks. Assessment of competency is based on evidence collected from the workplace and each supported employee is assessed individually.
Competency can describe a supported employee's ability to:
- perform individual tasks
- manage a number of different tasks within a job
- deal with the responsibilities and expectations of the Disability Employment Service.
Competency-based training emphasises the completion of meaningful tasks as a way to determine whether someone has the ability to successfully complete a task. Part of your role as a workplace trainer is to assess supported employees' competency. The table below illustrates the competency-based training process. In the first stage of the process the skills and knowledge required are provided to the supported employee, who in the second stage will perform the task. If the work is to the standard required the employee will be considered competent, and no further training will be required. If the work does not meet the required standard the employee will be considered to not be competent, and further training will be provided in order for competency standards to be met.
Colour for You is an art supply business. Supported employees work in small teams packing specialist art supplies such as crayons, watercolour pencils and brushes. Rufus, Roseanna, Matte and Bruna have been allocated to Team Red which has the job of collecting twelve different coloured watercolour pencils and placing them in a tin pack. Cyan, the team leader, has been asked by her manager to ensure the team is competent.
What are some of the things you think she needs to do?
What are some of the individual competencies a Team Red member may need in order to perform their job?
- Competency-based training is about recognising the various parts of a job and training to ensure each part is completed to the standard required so that the entire job is performed well.
Training is rarely a one-off event. When people learn something and then practise and revise the skills taught they gradually become more proficient, therefore it is most beneficial if training is continuous.
An example is how people learn to write. We start as pre-schoolers scribbling on walls, paper and in dirt and gradually progress to legible printing. Over the next few years we learn running writing and refine this until we can write effortlessly. Some people continue to develop their writing by learning calligraphy, sign writing or another alphabet. In other words, the training we begin when we learn to write is continuous and gradually builds until we become proficient. The diagram below illustrates this principle with each writing style over time graphically presented.
Workplace training for supported employees is similar. We need to gradually build the skills and knowledge, applying a continuous training and checking process. The steps involved are illustrated in following the diagram:
Desired outcome: The disability employment service needs the supported employee to perform a task to an established standard to reach output or workplace behaviour requirements.
Step 1: The performance standard is identified
Step 2: The workplace supervisor determines the supported employee’s performance against the established standard. If the standard is met no training is required, but performance needs to be continually monitored. If the standard is not met the following steps need to be taken
Step 3: Work place training is designed to close the gap between required performance and actual performance
Step 4: Work place training is delivered to address the specific skill, behaviour or knowledge area
Step 5: Supported employee’s abilities to perform the task, apply the knowledge or behave appropriately are assessed for competency
The outcome will be that the supported employee will be performing the task to the required standard, or will not be performing the task to the required standard.
A short answer to this is, yes. Training in any organisation needs to lead to a change in outcomes – such as developing new skills or making adjustments to existing skills to meet the organisation's needs.
Successful businesses link training to business objectives so there is a framework for decisions to be made about the type of training, who is trained and expenditure on training. Business plans present the objectives of the business. Goals By knowing where the organisation wants to go you are better able to determine the training required to get where you want to be.
In addition, Disability Employment Services have to meet continuous improvement and quality assurance requirements set by FaCSIA. Providing relevant and effective training is one of the ways these requirements can be met and demonstrated.
What are some of the reasons for training supported employees at the Disability Employment Service where you work?
Businesses will have a number of reasons for wanting to train employees. They could include:
- reducing production costs
- improving service
- moving into new product areas
- reducing staff turnover
- maintaining workplace safety and health.
Each of these points will relate to business objectives around improving performance, increasing market share or ensuring staff are well-skilled.
Effective workplace trainers need to build their own training skills and abilities to be able to address the learning preferences and subsequent training requirements of individual supported employees. In addition, they need to be aware of the Disability Employment Service's expectations relating to competency-based training.