Here’s A Guaranteed Way To Improve Performance

Target Practice

OK, I’ll start by being honest; there really are too many variables to guarantee improved performance.  However, when you focus your efforts on what’s important you surely will increase the odds of success.

Earlier today I recieved an email referencing an article from Dun & Bradstreet titled, “Ten Tips to Make Training More Effective”.   It is a good article, but provides tips that most of us in safety training already know. And many we have no control over, such as:  “Stress that training is an investment, determine the training need, promote training as a culture, etc.”  These sound familiar, don’t they?  How is anyone going to make training more effective by following these tips? 

The problem with all these types of articles, especially from credible sources like Dun & Bradstreet is that they tell you “what”, but they don’t tell you “how” to do it. 

So, today I am going discuss a thought or two about how to provide increased value through training. We will zero in on one strategy that is almost certain to gain positive results and improve safety performance.  I call it target practice.

Focus by Eliminating Distractions

If you have ever shot a rifle or used a bow and arrows you’ll understand the type of focus I’m referring to.  To hit the target your focus needs to be keen at first, and then just before you release or pull the trigger your vision blurrs a bit as you open your eyes more see the entire target area.  Hitting the Bulls Eye occurs not by locking your focus on the center of the target, but by orienting yourself to the surrounding, refocusing and aiming at the center.

There’s a strange phenomena that occurs when you lock your sight on one thing; you lose sight of everything else.  Yet, by adjusting your vision a bit so you see the big picture you still see the target and the Bulls Eye.

So how does this relate to training?  Some of you might say, not very well!  It’s about finding your best way to eliminate distractions so you can focus on priorities.  The point to be made is that like a successful marksperson, the best educators and trainers understand the importance of seeing the big picture, but aiming at only one Bulls Eye at a time. 

Multi-tasking is Our Enemy 

In our fast-paced, ever changing world we all find ourselves multi-tasing.  Whether at home or at work, there is so much to be done with so little time.  Not only is time management important, but the ability to prioritize and focus on those critical tasks becomes paramount.

For safety trainers this is especially important.  We often get caught up in providing all the required OSHA training and fail to spend time providing training on risk related issues.  We are aiming at the wrong target.  Multi-taking compounds the problem by increasing our distraction making it even harder to focus on what’s important.

So here’s where the guarantee comes into play.  Stop working on non-priorities and begin to focus on areas where losses or real problems are occuring, and then work to determine the causes of those losses.  When lack of knowledge, skill or ability are contributing factors or the root cause, adjust your aim and focus providing training that hits the mark. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s losses from strains and sprains, lacerations, slips and falls, or even driving related.  Focus in on these incidents to determine the loss drivers and cause.  Then adjust the training content to provide the knowledge or skills that are missing.  By doing this you almost always gain improved results.

ANSI/ASSE Z490.1 – A Great Place to Start 

Of course there’s much more to it than that, but focusing on loss drivers and training accordingly is good advice.  For more on this you should reference ANSI/ASSE Z490.1.  This ANSI Standard is a great road-map for developing and conducting effective safety training.

Like the marksperson, by focusing in on the target and then broadening your vision to see the big picture (all the contributing causes), you are better likely to know that training is the answer to the problem and deliver a training program that hits the Bulls Eye.  Just like Target Practice!