What, How & Why: The Big Three of Operator Training

What, How & Why: The Big Three of Operator Training, an article for trainers of forklift, aerial lift and loader operators.

Operating a forklift, aerial lift or loader is not a one dimensional activity. Operators must be able to correctly interpret information regarding their equipment, load, environment and application. They must then use that information to determine how the equipment controls are manipulated. That being said, training of such operators is not one dimensional either! A trainer must break things down into three dimensions in order to get an operator to the desired levels of knowledge, understanding and skill. The three goals of training are getting across the what, how and why. Let’s talk a bit about each…

WHAT must be done. This is a basic premise, but one that is surprisingly often overlooked or underestimated. Trainees must have a clear understanding of what it is they are expected to do. A great help here is to walk your trainees through what is expected of them before asking them to do anything. Doing this will provide them with consistent, accurate information and give them the opportunity to ask questions.

HOW to do it. This phase of a training program is the actual training itself. It involves the trainer’s instruction along with the physical use of the equipment by the trainees as they make the mental and physical connection between their actions and the reactions of the equipment.

WHY it is done. Without question, this is the most important phase. Nothing enhances a trainee’s motivation to do something more than understanding the rationale of why it should be done. Citing regulations, industry standards or company policy here will not do the trick in place of providing the reason why. Bottom line, trainees are far more likely to adhere to their training if they understand why they should. There is a reason for everything and those reasons need to be conveyed to each operator.

These three points must be expressed throughout both theory and practical training. Trainers should be ensuring understanding on an ongoing basis. In the classroom, this is achieved through active engagement and interaction with the trainees. In the field, understanding is achieved through practical demonstrations performed by the trainee with the equipment. If trainers are able to effectively convey these three goals, they will have paved the way to the door of the ultimate goal: understanding.

Reflect on your own training program… Are you addressing the what, how and why with your trainees? Make sure to catch our next article where we address Basic Traits of an Effective Trainer.

Rob Vetter
Director of Training
IVES Training Group

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