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Dozen Dos for Daily Discussions! (or Safety Talks and BS* Walks!)

Posted by Jonathan Klane on Apr 13, 2021 12:01:41 PM

* Bored Student (What did you think it meant?!)

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Keep it "on-time"! Everyone's time is important. If the meeting doesn't start and end on-time, people won't want to attend or will be late. Respect their time, and they'll (hopefully) respect yours (by paying attention).

Keep it "short"! The longer the meeting lasts, the less effective it becomes. People have short attention spans. Remember the "KISS" method – keep it short and simple (yes, there is another version, but we're being polite here).

Keep it "focused"! Don't ramble. Stay "on message." Let's face it – you're lucky if the workers pay attention to what you're saying. So say what matters most – the message.

Keep it "topical"! Make sure that the topics are directly applicable to the daily/weekly operations/tasks. Make sure that the meeting relates to the job and what's going on. Adult learners of all stripes need to have their training apply to their work – and I mean directly applicable. Make sure that your lesson or example is on the same tools, same tasks, sites, jobs, and situations. Get the idea?

Keep it "timely"! Ensure that you're covering only things that are happening (or are about to or just did happen). Adults don't want training if it does not matter. Remember that it must directly apply? Boy, I hope so – it was number 4 above. This is the corollary to it – adult learners need to have their training be of an immediate need, not for future needs.

Keep it "fresh"! Don't do the same stuff repeatedly. Cover new items or in new ways. Do you know the cliché that "doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results is an example of insanity"? So, you can't do the same training over and over and expect different safety results. Otherwise, trainees tune you out.

Keep it "organized"! Be prepared, just like the Boy Scout motto. Don't leave it to the last minute, or people will pick up on that, and it will lose its perceived value. Don't "wing it," or your trainees might "take wing" and fly away. Again, it comes down to respect – respect for them for you and the subject matter – their safety and health. Disorganized = disrespect. Unprepared? Just don't do it!

Keep it "open"! Be "open" to attendees' input before, during, and after the meeting. Adults like to contribute when/where it matters. Adult learners want to be directly involved with setting the agenda – so let them! When they're involved (in training), they're engaged in it! And that's what you want. Before training, they can help you craft the important message(s). During the training, they can help with the validation of the hazards and solutions. After the training, they're the ones that always want to discuss something with you about the training. Ready for another cliché? Minds are like parachutes – they only work when they're open.

Keep it "flexible"! Be flexible enough to allow for attendees to ask questions. This gets right back to "keep it open." If the group suddenly wants to change the topic and it's a relevant topic to site safety and health – go for it! Again, they're engaged in the training, and that's what you want. To do otherwise (not to address relevant sincere questions) is to risk alienating trainees, shutting down discussions, giving them a distaste for the training and health and safety, and flies in the face of sound adult learning principles. (Do you need any more reasons?)

Keep it "diverse"! People will get tired of the regularity. Change something about the meeting so people will look forward to it. Change the venue, change the setup, change the topic, change the trainer, change the teaching method, change the message, heck change the whole blessed thing (I bet you thought I'd say the whole enchilada or the whole nine yards, didn't you?). "Variety is the spice of life," so why not make it the spice of training, too!

Keep it "safe and healthy"! Don't engage in any unsafe or unhealthy behaviors during the meeting. You'll at best be sending a mixed message; more likely, you will lose any respect for the training and could get hurt or ill. My Dad used to tell me, "Do as I say, not as I do." You know what? I did as he did. We learn by watching others. How about a great quote? "Your actions thunder so loudly; I can hardly hear what you're saying." Henry David Thoreau.

Keep it "lively"! Make it exciting. Don't be a "talking head" – do something. Demonstrate safe behavior, get them involved and moving. Adults learn best when doing things. They also will pay better attention if there's a "show" – so give them one. A good trainer is 1/3 teacher, 1/3 coach or counselor, and 1/3 entertainer. You know what they say, "The show must go on!"

Keep it "well-fed"! Let's make it a "baker's dozen." People love to be fed. Consider bringing or providing some refreshments. Good food = good training! I hate it when I get to a class, and the client has not provided the obligatory coffee and donuts for the students (or maybe something healthy like yogurts, fresh fruit, and whole-grain bagels)!