Training forklift operators is a multifaceted procedure that should ultimately end in understanding by the trainee, and confirmation of that understanding by the trainer. As a trainer, you must take very deliberate, calculated steps both in the classroom and in the field to evaluate the trainees’ level of understanding.
In the classroom, interaction is the key. It’s amazing what you find out when you get people talking, here are a few tips:
- Maintain eye contact with your group. Communication is largely non-verbal and you can learn a lot from your trainees’ body language, facial expressions, etc.
- Ask questions that require a thoughtful response. Try starting your questions with phrases like, for example : “Why do you think it is a good idea to lower the load before traveling (for example)?” or “What would happen if you tried to lift a load that is larger than you forks?” This will encourage discussion and avoid yes/no responses.
- Ask “hot button” questions that stir up passionate responses. Issues relating to seat belt usage or pedestrian right of way are usually good discussion starters.
- Make yourself available during breaks. Many trainees feel embarrassed to draw attention in the classroom and will wait for opportunities to approach you in private.
In the field understanding is conveyed by the trainee in the form of demonstration. You can enhance the trainees’ ability to properly demonstrate by doing following:
- Explain exactly what is required and what you will be looking for before putting anyone in the seat.
- Issue clear and simple tasks one at a time, then find a place where you can watch from a safe distance and let them do it.
- When you do approach, try asking questions of the trainees instead of just telling them what they did wrong. This initiates interaction and communication.
- Have the trainees repeat tasks until they are demonstrated correctly.
- Offer encouragement, trainees need to know when they do things right too! Be positive, empathetic and PATIENT!
- Get rid if casual spectators, they are a distraction and a hazard.
- Review how things went with each trainee following a training session. Regardless of how experienced they are, there is always room for improvement.
Our next article, The Evaluation Process, talks about the practical evaluation process that typically follows practical training.
Director of Training
IVES Training Group
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