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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why Training Employees Is Always a High-Wire Act

The Drucker Difference November 18, 2011, 3:25 PM EST
Designing the right employee-training programs is as complex as it is crucial

By Rick Wartzman

Peter Drucker once described flying on a jetliner as the act of “moving that heavy, inert object, the human body, and inflicting upon it stupefying hours of vibration in stale air.” Last week, United Airlines pilots painted an even grimmer picture: Lack of adequate training, they claim, is compromising safety.

In a 101-page report issued by their union and sent to Capitol Hill, the pilots complained that the airline is using only Internet-based training—and not classroom sessions or practice in flight-simulators—to teach a “large volume of procedural changes” stemming from United’s merger with Continental Airlines to form United Continental Holdings (UAL). “United’s training regime is the equivalent of the Ringling Brothers Circus introducing a new trapeze routine and training the artists via computer,” the report by the Air Line Pilots Assn. asserts.

United has defended its training and safety procedures and dismissed the claims in the union document as a baseless attempt to influence contract negotiations. In any case, the clash raises a larger question, whether you run an airline or a more earthbound business: What are the characteristics of a good training program?

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