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Human Factors Continuation Training focusses too much on the individual

Written on:juni 3, 2011
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HF continuation training should focuss more on Teams.

As a qualified trainer, I use the Stamina Human Factors (HF) training concept for our Conventional Clasroom HF courses and HF workshops. This concept has four mainstreams that detail all levels affected by Human Factors within MRO organizations.

These four mainstreams are:

- Task
- Individual
- Team
- Organization

Several Human Factors models like the SHELL model (Software, Hardware, Environment, Liveware and Liveware) and the PEAR model (People, Environment, Actions and Resources), indicate that the individual is the key link in the chain of events that could result in aircraft accidents. This is certainly true and there should be no discussions on the fact that Initial Human Factors Awareness Training should or should not focus on the individual. A good Initial Human Factors course should provide you with the right skills and attitude and is the key to understand internal and external factors impacting your performance. And with these skills an attitudes, the initial course should create a healthy level of individual Human Factors Awareness.

But how do you actually implement individual Human Factors Awareness yourselves in practice? You probably pay special attention to the internal and external factors that impact your performance, like you have been taught in the initial HF course. I’m I fit enough? Do I experience too much stress? Do I choose to deviate from standard procedures or not? Do I communicate well enough? Do I have enough knowledge and competences to perform this task? Etc…..

All these internal concerns need to be taken into account when you are actively performing a maintenance task. The organization and your follow co-workers, rely on your integrity and hope that you still remember the lessons learned from the Human Factor courses, while making these difficult decisions. Do you have enough back-up and understanding from your fellow co-workers while making these difficult decisions? Are you acting alone or is there a cohesive team backing you up? And do you understand each other?

I personally believe in the strenght of teams. When I was still active as Process Engineer and later as Quality Assurance Manager, for a Component Repairshop in the Netherlands, I did experience the power and succes of Teams, that were actively involved in the organization’s improvement processes. Teams were becomming involved by means of empowerment. The organization implemented Customer Focusses Self Directing Teams and we were frequently trained by Dr. Dennis Romig, CEO and Team Coach of Side by Side Inc (www.sidebyside.com). The newly developed Teams received training in Team Goal setting and Goal Measurements, Structured Team Meetings, Conflict Management and Process Improvement skills.

Our Teams achieved success after success, because we were meeting our Team Goals and we were taught to celebrate our success. That was very rewarding and motivated us to achieve even more improvement results. We adjusted our Team Goals and continued to achieve (business) improvements. Because of our Team Groundrules that we collectively had listed  in one of our first Team training sessions, we developed the base line for our Team Culture. The Facilitators Team (managers were no longer called managers, but became facilitators) developed the organizational Ground Rules which set the baseline for the new Organizational Culture. 

In the meantime I became qualified as Human Factors trainer and knew everything about organizational cultures and their impact on safety. And then I started to realize something. Because of our successes and our Team skills, our organizational culture changed unintended. We used to have a Blame Culture, and negativity among employees was very common. After the implementation of the Customer Focused Self Directing Teams and the intensive Team training session in Conflict Management, the sky became blue again and we were more team oriented then ever. And from then on, the number of internal Human Factors related occurrences dropped down, as well as internal audit findings. Why? Because people were communicating again. Where they normally ignored each other because of personal issues, they now knew how to manage conflicts and prevented escalations. They were willing to help each other, and used structured team meetings to collectively make difficult decisions. As an individual, you were no longer alone in making tough decisions, because the Team was there for you to help.

This is why I believe that implementing Structured Team Training in your organization’s Human Factors Program guarantees a Safety Culture, happy and motivated employees and less internal occurrences and audit findings related to human error.

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