In part 1 of this series, we looked at some ways to get support from executives for an online training project. While their support is critical to get the project rolling, they're not the only ones who need to be onside for it to be successful. Department managers and drivers (the end users of the online training system) also need to understand why it's important and support the rollout as well.
Let's look at how to get them on board and helping move it forward.
Department managers outside of safety may not be able to approve the budget for an online training project, but they definitely play an important role in its success. If they don't support what's happening, they can absolutely cause complications that slow it down and prevent you from realizing the full benefits. As a result, it's essential to ensure they understand the value of the project, and as much as possible are supporting it. To ensure that support, much like with the executives, we need to understand their jobs and how the online training project fits into what they're doing.
The purpose of the department manager is to oversee the execution of the portion of the strategic plan that relates to their department. While they act in support of that larger plan, their job by definition is to worry about shorter term elements, resolve daily issues, and keep things running as smoothly as possible.
For online training, the department managers that are most closely related are Operations and Maintenance. In both cases, they may have larger objectives that they're working towards, but much of their job will be tied up in day-to-day issues. As a result, managers will often ask pretty direct questions about new projects:
Let's look at how to answer those questions for Ops and Maintenance.
Why should I care about this?
For both Ops and Maintenance, online training offers potential benefits that will improve things in their respective departments in the short and long term.
For Ops, the answer is straightforward: “Less disruption trying to schedule drivers in for training.”
An ongoing headache for Ops is dealing with the disruption that arises when drivers need to be scheduled in to the terminal at a specific time for training. If all drivers need to be back for a designated training session, it's hugely disruptive to their normal processes. Moving training online will remove or greatly reduce that headache, and that on its own is often enough to get them supporting the initiative.
For Maintenance, the answer is equally straightforward: “A better trained driving force reduces excess, unplanned maintenance”.
Maintenance has a schedule that maximizes vehicle uptime while also minimizing the associated costs. Drivers who don't understand how to do proper inspections or don't take care of the vehicle (e.g. hard braking, poor tire management) create excess costs and headaches for maintenance. Moving training online means that more of it can be delivered, reducing the issues that come from poor vehicle operation.
What do I need to do?
Once Maintenance and Ops are onside with the project, they need to know how to support it. They don't often need to do much, which makes it even easier for them to support it, but making it clear what they can do helps keep everything moving.
For Ops, mostly what they need to do is openly support the project with drivers. Remind drivers to complete assignments, pass along any feedback or reports of problems, and maybe take some of the courses directly so they can have informed discussions with drivers about the content. It's not a lot, but it can be a big help in a successful rollout.
Maintenance plays a similarly simple but helpful role - they mostly need to support the project by talking to drivers about it and answering any follow-up equipment-related questions that come up.
Drivers, as the end users of the online training, are an absolutely critical part of its success. In a later story we'll break out more details of how to plan a rollout to ensure they support it from beginning to end, but it's useful to consider them even early on when building the business case internally.
Drivers will often have questions similar to managers, focusing on why they should care about this initiative and what they're going to have to do as a result.
Let's look briefly at how to communicate the benefits, at an early stage when there's still a lot of specific rollout planning left to do.
What's in it for us?
The primary benefit of moving online - detailed training that doesn't require drivers to show up in class - is usually pretty compelling on its own. Most drivers recognize that learning never stops, and with regulatory and technology changes coming faster all the time it's ever more important to stay informed.
What do we need to do?
This is the question that generally requires the most consideration. While drivers may support the core principles behind moving training online, they will often have concerns about how it's going to work in practice. In the early stages of the project, it's perfectly acceptable to not have all the answers on that yet. Instead, be honest and note that there is still planning to be done. Acknowledge the concerns and commit to addressing them and you'll be on your way to getting drivers on side with the project.
There will still be work to do to ensure a smooth rollout, but if drivers are included early on, they can be a big help in completing that work when the time comes.
With department managers and drivers buying into the benefits of moving training online, and having a reasonable sense of what they need to do help it succeed, the project will be well on its way.
Next up: planning the actual rollout!
View from the Edge is a periodic review of best practices in risk management, driver development, and technology for the trucking industry, produced by CarriersEdge.
CarriersEdge provides interactive online driver training for the North American trucking industry. A comprehensive library of safety and compliance courses is supplemented with extensive content creation and customization options, full featured survey tools, detailed management reports, and the industry's first dedicated mobile app for driver training.