When Trained Personnel Fail To Retain

The failure to retain what has been taught isn’t an aptitude problem, but an accountability problem.

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A reader recently used the “Ask An Expert” feature of our Training Zone to ask the following question:

Question

I work in a Swiss-style screw machine shop. I'm the plant CNC trainer. I have students who claim to understand a procedure, and they demonstrate it, but then after a month or two they fail to use it. More than 80% fail to retain. Is the problem as simple as aptitude or do I need to again re-evalute my ability to train?

Response from Ryan Pohl, president of Expert Technical Training

To me, it doesn't sound like an aptitude or training problem. It sounds like an accountability problem. I use checksheets that require initials or a signature next to specific tasks, responsibilities, or procedures that an individual must learn. The trainer signs-off saying s/he has covered that item, and the trainee signs-off saying s/he understands it. If I have a trainee's signature showing that they comprehend a procedure, and that person does not use it, then it becomes a supervision problem. Who is holding this person accountable? How many times has this person broken from the standards? Who is tracking that?

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