Train to engage brain

It seems that as the demand for training in organisations increases the demand for using common sense decreases. Just because you have not been trained to sit in a chair, does not mean you cannot do so.

The problem showed itself in its full glory when I attended a health and safety course. The trainer gave as an example that nobody should be allowed to climb a ladder, not matter how small, without appropriate training. This comes close to being trained to sit in a chair.

I am in full agreement that people should be aware of risks. So a ladder should be on a stable base. If you are going higher up, get someone to hold the ladder. Don’t set up your ladder in a busy street, etc, etc.

Of course all the people we train in climbing that ladder will do so without hesitation at home, but as soon as it comes to the workplace, the brain is told to go into neutral. No training – no action. This cannot be right.

Many years ago I was running a rental company with 22 offices. One morning I came into my office to a telephone call from the MD of our franchisor. He was very unhappy as something had gone wrong with a rental to the CEO of a major company at our airport location the night before.

What had happened remains somewhat unclear. This CEO, who travelled incognito, had shown up at the rental office with a confirmed booking which the agent could not find. She tried to correct it, failed, got into more of a mess and finally, after some delay, got the customer into a car and sent him off. She knew who he was and in the end decided that it was better to simply get him on the move with an incorrect contract, than to mess him about more. She was right – she used her brain.

I wrote to the CEO apologising for the error to the fury of the franchisor MD and got a very nice letter back. That was the end of it. The agent went on to bigger things in the company, and 10 years later set up her own recruitment company. She knew how to use her initiative.

I am concerned that we are losing this ability to show initiative and to use our brains. This does not mean we should not be trained. It simply means we should not forget to think. Remember this when training your team.

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