You have probably heard the old proverb one bad apple can spoil the barrel but have you ever seen the effect that one good apple can have on the others? The ‘apples’ I am referring to here are of course a metaphor for forklift operators and the ‘good’ ones are those operators who take the time do their jobs safely and in accordance with their training.
It can be very frustrating to see rookies get through the training and evaluating elements of their safety training only to find that the first bit of on – the – job training delivered by the “operators” they work with is to “forget all that (expletive deleted) and just get it done.”
Of course supervisors along with the support of upper management and the cooperation of workers are supposed to make sure that doesn’t happen but typically, the aforementioned key links in the chain are unaware of what is required and usually have what they feel are, bigger fish to fry. You can argue that this is not supposed to be the way it is and that management must see safety through to the end and yada, yada, yada. but it does happen and we need to deal with it.
Which brings me back to the good apples; during my training programs I am always on the lookout for those experienced operators that are moderately keen to learn the “right” way to do things and more importantly, willing to demonstrate their abilities. Once identified, I begin to compliment their knowledge and skill. I will often go to them for their opinions on issues and questions that come up by saying something like, “Joe, you know your way around out there, what would you suggest that Jane do in that situation.” If the trainees identified as good apples are keen and able, I will utilize them during hands-on exercises to help me monitor things. At private moments I will stroke them with first my confidence in their abilities and my admiration of the professionalism they bring to their work.
I don’t get smarmy or phony with anyone. My comments are sincere and frankly, I don’t always find good apples but when I do, their real value is not realized in the classroom, it is in the workplace for years after the training. Those people you have working on the front lines that want to and can do things properly are invaluable examples for others to model. Try to identify them and get them into positions where they can be best utilized, as on the job trainers, team leaders, charge-hands, etc. When properly utilized, these key people will affect improvements in areas other than safety like morale, productivity, missed time, and more. They will prove to be your most valuable resource in upholding the values of training by leading by example where it counts the most. on the job.
As always, people that conduct themselves smartly and positively influence others should be rewarded in kind and for this, a nice shiny apple would be entirely appropriate!
Director of Training
IVES Training Group
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