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Training Engagement Tips for Your Operations Leaders, Part 1: Collaboration

By Chance Navarrete   |   

Operations leaders are constantly juggling a demanding number of production goals, from reaching daily quotas to maximizing the utilization of equipment. With all of their critical responsibilities, it’s easy to see how staying on track with an ongoing training plan can fall by the wayside!

I invited Bob Rysavy, HR Training Manager at Hearthside Food Solutions, and Kristin Kastrup, Sr. Training Consultant and Certified Change Management Practitioner, to
join me in a conversation about effective ways to get operation leaders excited about training. In our conversation we refer to these proven methods as the “4 Cs”: Collaboration, Commitment, Communication, and Culture. We also provide additional insight in order for you to be able to drive meaningful change in your own company. In this first segment, let’s explore the first “C.”

There are two things you’ll want to identify when engaging with your operations leaders: What training processes are best suited to ongoing, active collaboration? And who should be involved? Consider doing the following:


Interview everyone. The most important thing to know above all, says Rysavy, is that it all comes down to human connection. “In manufacturing, there is a ‘we’ vs ‘they’ barrier,” he says. Different departments feel quite separate, and even competitive with one another. Something that can unintentionally exacerbate this is that training professionals sometimes develop training without fully understanding the audience they are creating it for.


But there’s a way to prevent this. “We can tear down this barrier through empowerment,” says Rysavy. He calls the motivational force behind this the “art of giving a darn,” which includes interviewing workers in an organized fashion and using their feedback to make informed decisions about the training they’ll be expected to take, thereby positively impacting their day to day.


Ask your learners for input. It’s essential to collect information from the people you’re creating training for. “We forget to ask the people doing the jobs themselves; the ones who are closest to the work,” says Kastrup. It helps you better understand their needs so that you can build a stronger training program that addresses the real needs of your workforce. “They have the best ideas on how to train, and what processes would make the training better,” she says.

Establish subject matter expert (SME) review. Your operations team is key when working on a training program. They need to have a voice and input into the content you’re creating. Plus, getting their buy-in makes training more effective, and they can help get their teams to buy-in as well!


Involve everyone who has a stake in business success. Make your effort cross-functional! Include operations, HR, legal, EHS, QA — anyone within the operation who wants your company to be successful. What are their thoughts on what should be included in your training program?


Use data on best training practices and tailor your message. Learn about proven methods for effective training and then apply them. This will help your request for help and involvement for the best results.


See it through. While you might not be involved in every aspect of your training, you’ll want to be involved at the major checkpoints to ensure that your training program is meeting your key goals.


How to Get People Engaged

So now you know how important it is to collaborate with stakeholders, but what are some ways of actually getting people involved? People are busy — how do you get them to make time for taking part in the training process?

Check in with yourself. Are you enjoying what you’re doing? If so, broadcast your passion for it and model it for others. “A smile goes a long way in this environment,” says Rysavy.


Showcase the value of the training tools. Capitalize on the operations hot buttons: quality, speed, and retention. “Everyone that I’ve spoken to says retention is a big issue, as well as retaining information,” says Rysavy. Emphasize that these are the benefits of investing in training!


Have a strategy. Whether it’s a learning plan, training plan, or process, be sure that what you’re working on makes the best use of everyone’s time. “Be thoughtful,” advises Kastrup.


Communicate. Be clear on what sort of expectations you have for your stakeholders, as well as what they should expect of you, and the training program.


Start small and build grassroots support. This allows you to test out new ideas and make any necessary adjustments. “We get so excited about moving forward that we leave out this really important first step: which is to use a pilot group or location to try out a new process,” says Kastrup.


Celebrate successes. Success begets more success, especially when you celebrate the contributions of those who helped!


Part 2: Commitment

Collaboration leads us naturally into our next “C”: Commitment. In our upcoming blog post in this series, we’ll explore dividing up responsibilities and ownership in a healthy training process. Subscribe to our blog to ensure you don’t miss it!


Read Part 2.


You can also watch the full webinar here!

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