Article Archive
Maximizing 'Proper' Training
Volume 23, No.2

Often when someone becomes injured while performing their job or is not performing a job to the expectations set forth by the company, a common question that's asked by upper management is if they have been trained on all the aspects of the job. This article is intended to discuss effective training strategies to maximize efforts and gain a better return on the investment in regards to employee training. I feel like this topic would apply to emergency responders as they have to continuously keep up with changes in the industry and maintain certifications. The intent is to generate some thoughts around training in today's environment and to offer an opportunity to assess several options for training and follow-up.

Its been said many times that if an employee is properly trained to carry out a task, whatever that is, they in turn should not be susceptible to injury or to make bad decisions. Unfortunately, this is not the case as history is filled with individuals who reportedly were properly trained but in reality were not. So the question is then asked, who identifies what is proper training and what is not?This can take on a considerable number of meanings when you talk about proper training. For instance, if you needed training on how to properly roll up a fire hose, that would be a simple form of training. However, if you were asked to start a diesel engine driven stationary fire pump in the middle of an emergency, that would require some detailed training. So if you are looking for training in a certain area, here are a few things to consider. There are two basic ways to look at training an employee; one is existing in-house resources and the other is to search out offsite training.

Say for instance that someone is nearing retirement at an industrial facility and his replacement has been named. Management makes the decision that the most affordable training is for the guy who plans to retire to train his replacement. The problem that I see with this type of training is that the retiree may have never attended specialized training from someone who really knows what to do. So he could be actually handing down bad information that was passed on to him from his predecessor. Its not to say that in some cases the retiree lacks expertise but from experience they tend to not have the complete knowledge needed to train an individual who will be required to function 100 percent on day one.

The other travesty is for the company to send an employee to attend a training class with the expectation that they will gain enough knowledge to be 100 percent competent in a particular area. With companies cutting back on travel and expense and with the people leading such busy lives, one is doing good to get away for a day or two at best. How can a company expect a person to gain expertise in a particular area in two days?

To answer this, it basically takes a combination of offsite training with industry experts and some time spent on the job or with someone who has performed the job in the past successfully.

When considering offsite training as a possibility, there are a few things to consider. Trainers typically tend to focus primarily on the areas of expertise as they feel more comfortable teaching and what they know the most about.So if you are looking for training in a specific area, be sure to seek out a trainer whose expertise rests in that area. You are more likely to get what you were looking for if you follow this basic rule of the road. Do understand that just because someone knows the subject material, they may not be able to get it across in a manner that the employee will be able to understand.

It's a good idea to develop a checklist of criteria that you feel is necessary for an employee to perform a job. Someone would need to decide what level of training is considered to be acceptable. Would just good working knowledge suffice or would they need to be a true expert in the given area and possibly train other employees. Use that criteria to evaluate and assess a training program before you send your employee. Be wary of the generic, teaching ten subjects in a one day training class, as these are often rushed with not near the substance as an entire day dedicated to a particular subject.

The next logical step is to search for training classes that meet or exceed your criteria. Once this is done, it's a good idea to ask for references from past participants who have had similar needs as yours. This is a good way to assess the provider's ability to train. A word of caution is that most people tend to dwell on the one or two negative things they might have experienced during the training and not the overall experience.

So once you have done the above mentioned things and the employee has returned from the training class, how do you measure the effectiveness of such training? This could be accomplished several different ways. After searching several internet sites, I came across a training assessment from Donald Kirkpatrick. Here is what I discovered:

The four levels of Kirkpatrick's evaluation model essentially measure:

  • Reaction of student - what they thought and felt about the training
  • Learning - the resulting increase in knowledge or capability
  • Behavior - extent of behavior and capability improvement and implementation/application
  • Results - the effects on the business or environment resulting from the trainee's performance

I feel like the Kirpatrick model is a good measure of successful training. For more information, visit:

If you need further guidance on proper training methods feel free to contact this author at or at (504)220-0057.

Jeffrey R. Roberts, CFPS is with XL GAPS, a leading loss prevention services provider and part of the XL group of companies.Through its operating subsidiaries, XL Capital Ltd (NYSE: XL) is a leading provider of global insurance and reinsurance coverages to industrial, commercial and professional service firms, insurance companies, and other enterprises on a worldwide basis. As of September 30, 2007, XL Capital Ltd had consolidated assets of approximately $60.9 billion and consolidated shareholders' equity of approximately $11.4 billion. More information about XL Capital Ltd is available at


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