The way passengers responded (or didn’t) when a Southwest Airlines flight was in danger, can teach you that good training requires proper implementation.



Training is effective, in part, through repetition, which means it’s worth hearing the same spiel every time you get on a plane (really), but the other integral piece of effective training is implementation.

 

The act of flying on a commercial airline is full of repetitive, monotonous instructions: Don’t leave your bag unattended. Remain seated when the light is on. Raise your seat backs to the upright position. And at the start of every flight, as the wheels trundle along the runway and the plane sways to the beat of the flight attendant’s words, a practiced speech summarizes the actions to take in the case of an emergency.

Even on modern flights where videos play, flight attendants still act out the steps in such scenarios. They’re placed at intentionally visible spots throughout the aisles and trained to exaggerate their movements for optimal viewing, so that the bright yellow masks they raise to their faces are visible and passengers can easily see, and learn, how the mask fits over their mouths and noses.

It’s a sight we’ve all seen dozens, maybe hundreds of times. Many of us would even say the actions are as familiar as the act of flying itself. And our familiarity with this training leads us to ignore it. We tuck in our headphones, crack open our books, let our eyes drift closed, because surely, we know what we’re doing by now.

On April 17, that training we’ve all witnessed a thousand times was put to the test when the engine on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 exploded. As the plane swiftly depressurized, the emergency plan kicked in. The sunny yellow masks dropped from the ceiling, and passengers hurriedly drew them to their faces—incorrectly.

And here we see one of the most common mistakes in training.

Like us, most of these passengers had witnessed this training before, but though they’d heard the words and even seen the gestures a dozen times, they’d never done them. Which means they’d never really finished the training at all.

Training is effective, in part, through repetition, which means it’s worth hearing the same spiel every time you get on a plane (really!), but the other integral piece of effective training is implementation. Without that final piece of the training puzzle, the other steps were for naught, and the entire training failed.

It’s a perspective you can easily apply to your own business (though perhaps the risks are a little less alarming). When you train your employees, be it a new hire or continued education for the old hands, you likely follow some sort of regiment: point out what they’re doing wrong, show them how to do it well, ask them to confirm they understand, and then send them back out onto the floor.

But like the flight attendants and passengers, you’re missing a step. If you don’t witness your employee trying the training for themselves—whether through role play or implementation on the sales floor—then you haven’t trained them at all. It’s through implementation that the training sticks. If your employees merely watches you, they might understand the concept, but they won’t recognize their own mistakes until they make them and you address them directly. It’s through implementing the training that the can incorporate it correctly into their own actions.

It’s like they always said: Practice makes perfect.

 

About The Mann Group:  Since 2003, the Mann Group has guided hundreds of outdoor retailers to double-digit revenue increases through its targeted training programs, assessments, and consulting services while steering manufacturers toward stronger brand identity and retailer partnerships. With a focus on the outdoor, cycling, and running industries, The Mann Group’s in-depth knowledge of this market provides clients with unparalleled insight and custom business tools that achieve proven results.



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