Improving the method of employee training is only one ofseveral factors critical to achieving sustained employee performance. We often hear about major strides companies are making to improve the delivery of training but this change won’t mean much for the business unless organizational issues are addressed, also. For example, according to a Wall Street Journal article, UPS is experimenting with technology that gives new drivers hands-on practice in simulated situations before driving a truck and making deliveries for real. Jennifer Levitz of WSJ writes:
Vexed that some 30% of driver candidates flunk its traditional training, United Parcel Service Inc. is moving beyond the classroom to ready its rookies for the road. In the place of books and lectures are videogames, a contraption that simulates walking on ice and an obstacle course around an artificial village. Based on results so far, the world's largest package-delivery company is convinced that 20-somethings—the bulk of UPS driver recruits—respond best to high-tech instruction and a chance to hone skills.
I applaud UPS for this investment in employee learning. However, I wonder what they are doing about helping these employees understand the link between what they are learning and business outcomes for the company, responding to individual learning needs of each employee, ensuring that someone in the company continues to provide performance feedback frequently over time, providing opportunities to continue to practice all of the skills learned during training even months and years after the initial orientation phase, and holding employees and their managers accountable for their contribution to achieving business goals over the long-term. These other organizational factors are just as important, if not more so, than new games and simulations during the “rookie” phase.