If you have trained a forklift operator or two in your time you can probably relate to the experience of seeing the often upset emotional state of some trainees when they show up for training sessions. Often displaying signs ranging from utter apathy to immobilizing fear their state is usually due to the fact that in most cases, they have been sent, usually against their will, into a situation where failure is possible.
Failure, as it relates to a forklift operator training program can take many forms. Trainees could fail to grasp basic theory concepts or to demonstrate operational ability, they could even fail to be able to read or write. Regardless of the reasons that generate fear or at least trepidation in the minds of trainees, it all seems to come back to one thing – fear of failure.
To alleviate this perception in my trainees I like to get one thing straight right off the top – failure is not possible. I explain to them that as their trainer, I am in it with them for the long haul. That being the case, if they are unsuccessful in the classroom and/or field then it is as much my responsibility as it is theirs. This approach seems to relieve some pressure by pointing out that successful completion of the program is going to require an honest effort from them and from me – it’s not all about them. I also like to point out that if, at the end of the process, they are unsuccessful – it is not the end of the road. Quite the opposite in fact, as what we have succeeded in is determining that additional training is required – which is a good thing!
As trainers, we must never lose sight of the fact that the very reason we conduct evaluations after training is to determine if additional training is required and not to pass or fail anyone. Once you have determined that additional training is indeed required you can convey that information to the trainee along with the good news that you have also identified what areas can be improved and what course of action to take in order to make it happen.
I understand that operating a forklift is not for everybody in that there is an intangible element of “feel” required to operate any powered machinery. However, I firmly believe that given the proper training and time for supervised practice most people will acquire the required skills and be able demonstrate proficiency perhaps 90 – 95% of the time. If not, it just may be that additional training is required – for the trainer.
Director of Training
IVES Training Group
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