You are the squad leader of your local fire station. You receive a typical two-alarm call for a house fire three miles away. You and your six team members head out, as you were trained, to handle the situation. As you come upon the scene, you learn from a police officer that arrived five minutes before you that the house served as a non-licensed daycare facility and that there are eight children inside under the age of six. You also learn that from the owners that the fire started in the basement and there are explosive chemicals stored there. WHAT DO YOU DO???
Everyday Decision Making
Now, you may not be a firefighter. You may have never been personally involved with a fire. But the situation above is a simple demonstration of what anyone in any line of business deals with every day DECISION MAKING. Firefighters, similar to your employees, go through constant training to deal with situations like the one described above. Technical training, situational awareness, leadership, communication, teamwork; all mirror training in the corporate world. What also mirrors the corporate world is the fact that employees face dynamic situations every day, often times situations they have not specifically been trained to face. In these unknown situations, what do we do? How do we react?
We rely on gut, we rely on instinct, we rely on what we’ve learned over the years (and yes, that includes training.) It is well documented that most workplace incidents, no matter the magnitude, are more often a result of human error. But what is human error? Naturally, human error includes the occasional gaffe, the mental slip. This includes the driver going left when he knew he needed to go right. It’s the pilot distracted and turning on the cockpit lights on while actually meaning to turn on the intercom.
Corporations Can Use Decision Making Training Too
What we are addressing is something often overlooked in the corporate world, and in corporate training. Most major incidents in the workplace involve errors in decision making. Decision errors are simply the employee faced with a situation, assessing what is happening, and deciding a specific course of action. This happens every day, every hour, with every employee. When things go wrong, it is typically a result of a wrong decision. Does your organization focus training on decision making?
In a round-about way, you probably do. All training addresses decision making; it’s just not the primary focus. You purchase training programs to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. You hire consultants on the latest management techniques. You purchase the latest software to help eliminate errors. All of these are designed to solve problems, problems which focus directly back on the employee and decisions made. Now who is the focus of all this training?
Typically, training is directed towards either the newer employee or those with ongoing issues. The goal is to get the new employee up to production standards or the issue-laden employee back on the right track. The desired result is for them to be as much like your expert employees as quickly as possible. This makes sense except that you are ignoring our most vital resource THE EXPERTS ON HAND!!