ALD's Business Familiarisation Process

By Ashley Philpott

One of the key strengths from us as a business in my opinion is our familiarisation process and you allude to that when you talk about, contextualised learning, anecdotal evidence, evidence, examples both theory and practical. For me that was one of the key reasons why we wanted to get involved with ALD and I think that you as an individual are very good at selling that process of familiarisation. So, for our audience today can you talk about examples, what has that looked like in the past and if we were talking to a prospective client today what that process would involve.

The process for Active Learning for familiarisation is critical, and key to what we do. You cannot be at the front of a classroom or be at the front of a TV talking to leaders and managers in a business with its own unique cultures, specific operating functions and processes, it’s own language, its own way of doing things and not have to integrally understand that a leader in company A will lead under a certain set of conditions and a leader in company B at the same level, leading a similar kind of team will do it completely differently, because of the nature of the business they are in. they will use different language, they could be geographically different, industrially different, technically different, my trainers have to understand all of that.

So, our familiarisation process involved a lot of upfront investigation subject to minimising the impact on business, in a large new business we could wait up to 2 weeks before we even think about putting pen to paper, making sure we tailor as a standard and where necessary bespoke and I mean really bespoke. If you go to do DB Cargo, one of our big clients, and watch one of my trainers or myself training their mentors they will be using railway technical specific language, they will be talking about brake tests, they will be able to explain them and talk through things like what checks a shunter has to do before a train leaves the station and they know all this stuff. So, they will look very much like a trainer from the company in which they are teaching.

So, our whole familiarisation process involves lots of investigation, spending time speaking to people at every level, getting different perspectives, getting all the sorts of data that we need to make sure that the programme we design absolutely bolts neatly like a jigsaw puzzle, it is almost like the missing piece of the jigsaw, the training that will bolt onto the side of you and you will almost not notice we are there in terms of who we are but you will notice the impact in terms of what we do. My trainers need to if they are going to challenge peoples mindsets which is what a trainer does, we challenge people to think about things differently, and have maybe another way of doing something and if you are going to do that to people they need to be comfortable with you and one of the fastest ways to do that is I suppose to have a bit of street cred to show that you have taken time to understand somebody. Basic perception, we trust people who look like they can take time to understand us and all ALD trainers do that.

So, I am normally involved in familiarisation and any pilot programme and through the process familiarisation will involve our trainers as well and they will start the process and once I am happy with the pilot, they will continue on and gradually will bring in if things continue to progress maybe another trainer or a third trainer and educate them into your processes. I have had trainers that have cut the doors off cars with hydraulic cutters in the fire and rescue, and having to spend 2 hours on a drill night in Portsmouth, I’ve had learners who have had to learn to drive buses that have sat in a train simulator for 3 hours learning how a 66 class train works, they have to understand all this stuff and that is key to the way we deliver it. I don’t think there are many companies who put that much time and effort into that. So yeah, it takes a lot of time upfront, but it will always pay dividends long term. Because of that effort we put in it helps to engineer long term relationships with clients and we have clients we have been working with still now since I joined Active Learning in 2003.

So, if you’re not sure give us a call and we will tell you if we can do it. I bet you if it’s to do with humans we probably can!

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