This is the third part, in a series of six, about procedures by Anders Ellerstrand. The previous parts are here: Part 0 – Intro, Part 1 – Design Process and Part 2 – Memory Aid.
I cannot imagine a training for someone to be a pilot or an air traffic controller if there were no procedures. Large portions of such training programs are spent reading procedures. To learn about them, to know which of the procedures you need to know by heart and where you will find others when you need them.
Once that is cleared, you spend hours after hours in a simulator where you apply these procedures until you can do it well. Then it is time to apply them in real life, first with an instructor and then, finally, as a trained professional.
I have worked many years as a teacher and instructor, but also as a training manager and I have been a project manager for a new training design. None of these roles would have been possible without procedures. They determine how the training program is designed, how the training sessions are scheduled, how the training results are monitored and assessed and how the training results are validated.
However, there are also a few problems with procedures and training. The most prominent problem is how to deal with the previously mentioned gap between ‘work-as-imagined’ and ‘work-as-done’. Do you recognise these statements below?
• “As you are still in training, you have to do it like this. Later, you will find out how it is really done.”
• “In the real world, you often have to ‘bend-the-rules’ or ‘take a shortcut’ here and there, but that is only fine if you first know the procedures properly. You must know what rule you are bending.”
Sometimes it is not really about bending or breaking, but more about interpretation. During training, you typically have several instructors, and you may find that their ways of using the procedures are different. Do you then adapt, changing the way you operate depending on which instructor you have? Is this a problem acknowledged by the training institute and discussed among the instructors? If it is, it might be that the instructors adapt so that they use the procedures the same way as long as they are in their role as instructors.
A consequence could be if the student sees the instructor performing the real job, doing things differently than he explained it to the student. Then you have the classical parent-child issue: “Do as I tell you, not as I do!”
Good luck with your training! 😉