Manufacturing Training: Implementing Your Training

Manufacturing Training: Implementing Your Training

In this continuation of our Manufacturing Training Insights article series, we’re going to look at the fourth phase of the ADDIE instructional design model--implement the training. Basically, that means delivering the training to the workers/learners. 

Our goal in writing this series is to hopefully provide some useful guidance to people involved in learning and development/training in the manufacturing industry. Of course, some of you may have Ph.D.s and may be seasoned instructional designers, elearning developers, virtual instructors, or classroom trainers, but certainly there are quite a few people involved in manufacturing training who are new to training and can benefit from an introduction to some 100-level concepts. 

Following some of the tips in this Manufacturing Training Insights series should help you make it easier for your organization to reach its goals, showing that your training efforts are aligned to business goals; help workers from onboarding through all the stops on their career path; aid in knowledge acquisition and skill development; improve productivity and efficiency at your workplace; lower costs due to stoppages, waste, and poor quality as well as costs associated with ineffective training; and more. 

It’s no surprise that the things listed above are desired in manufacturing. With the baby boomers first beginning to retire way back in 2012, we’ve known manufacturers were facing a skill gap (and a need to quickly train new, younger workers) for quite some time. Of course, as technology increases in manufacturing (such as with the Industrial Internet of Things, Advanced Manufacturing, the increasingly common appearance of robots, sensors, computers, and artificial intelligence on the workfloor, etc.), older and newer workers needed to develop new skills to keep up. And of course, the ongoing COVID pandemic only exacerbated the need to help reskill and upskill workers, many of whom left jobs in other industries and are entirely new to their manufacturing jobs. 

With all that said, let’s get started with our look at implementing training to a manufacturing workforce, shall we? 

A Quick Review of ADDIE and the Manufacturing Training Insights Series 

As a quick reminder, this article series is based on the ADDIE training design method. ADDIE stands for analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. We know there are other training development models out there, that there are some pros and cons to using ADDIE, and that there are folks in manufacturing training design who may use other approaches, such as agile, design thinking, LEAPS, SAM, LLAMA, and so on. And that’s fine. We’re just using ADDIE as a framework because it is commonly used, because many L&D professionals are familiar with it, because those who aren’t familiar with it should be whether they use it or not, and also because there are still a lot of similarities amongst these ID models.

In earlier articles in this series that dealt with ADDIE, we discussed analysis (our article on the HPI front-end analysis), training design (including separate articles on learning objectives and learning assessments), and training development

So with training analysis, design, and development already discussed in earlier articles, we’re now reading to dive into implementation--the fourth of the five steps in ADDIE.

Feel free to download our What Is ADDIE? infographic before you go on reading.

A Quick Note on Running a Beta/Pilot Test of Your Training 

Before you rush into delivering the training you’ve designed and developed, and before we rush into writing about that, let’s take a quick breather and discuss running a small pilot test (this idea is similar to the fail fast, fail “light," and learn idea you see in design thinking, the PDCA cycle commonly used in lean and quality, and elsewhere).

Once you’ve developed your training materials/activities, it’s a good idea to run a limited test on them with a small group of learners before you release them “into the wild” with a much larger population of learners. Sometimes this idea of beta testing is considered one of the last things you’d do in the training development phase of ADDIE, or you might think of it as the first thing you’d do in the implementation phase of ADDIE. I’m not sure how much it matters if you think of this as a training development or a training implementation issue, or if it matters at all, as long as you do it.

Conducting a small pilot program of your new training program will allow you to find any errors (big or small) and correct them before you launch them to the larger training population and risk having the training go over like the proverbial lead zeppelin.

For your pilot, try to get some workers who are very similar to the larger worker population that will ultimately take the training. Watch them during the training and take note of their actions and reactions. Are they progressing steadily or struggling and confused? Do they have problems with the user interface and/or the actual subject matter? How did they do on practice exercises and, of course, the test? Be sure to ask for their opinions after, as well, to get their top-of-mind thoughts and opinions, then ask them to complete a survey about the training beta test as well.

And, of course, after you’ve conducted your beta test of the training materials, make any revisions necessary to improve the training before you implement it to the larger employee group (this is one reason some people are not convinced that the ADDIE method is flawed because it’s a “linear, waterfall” method--the opportunity to evaluate and iterate mid-stream). 

Now It’s Time to Implement Your Training 

Once you’ve run that beta test, it’s time for the rubber to hit the road and for you to implement your training activities.

Of course, exactly what you’ll do during the implementation phase will depend in part on the information you learned in analysis and decisions you made in design, mostly notably leading to the types of training delivery methods/media you chose to use for this particular training need (hot tip: consider a blended learning solution if appropriate, as evidence shows blended learning tends to lead to better learning outcomes).  

In general, training implementation will involve things like the listed items below:

  • Schedule the training
  • Notify workers
  • Notify managers of those workers
  • Tell managers how to support the training after the training is done
  • Deliver the training 

Of course, you may have designed a continuing learning experience instead of a one-and-done training session, which will allow workers to continue to build up their knowledge over time and to gain the learning benefits of spaced practice. And keep in mind that in addition to using spaced practice for training, there’s a LOT of benefit to be gained from getting managers to support the training objective once the training session is over and workers are back on the job.

If you’re implementing elearning, your job may be as simple as assigning the training, assuming workers already have access to things like your LMS, freedom within their schedule to complete the training, and so on.

If you’re implementing classroom-style, instructor-led training, well then your job is a bigger one. That’s beyond the scope of this article to describe in detail, but you’re going to have to get in front of the class, greet the learners, know how to work with the training materials, lead the discussion, answer questions, scan employee’s body postures and facial expressions to see if they’re paying attention or confused, correct misconceptions, provide feedback, and so much more. It’s truly a great skill to be an effective classroom instructor. If this isn’t you (yet), consider taking a course to sharpen your skills through an organization such as the Association for Talent Development (ATD). 

If you’re going to be conducting virtual instructor-led training, then your job is similar to but different than it would be for classroom instruction. It’s similar because you’re going to have to juggle a lot of balls just as you would in a classroom, and you’re going to have to do things like engage with the learners, judge their understanding, aid with comprehension, correct misconceptions, provide demonstrations, give feedback on their performances, and more. But it will be different because the movement from classroom-training to virtual instructor-led training isn’t as simple as directly “porting” over your training materials from one medium to the other. Read our interview with VILT expert Shannon Tipton on live online learning and virtual instructor-led training for more on this.

And of course, you might have created training in a lot more different media than just classroom-style instructor-led training, virtual instructor-led training, and elearning. Maybe you created a PowerPoint or a PDF. Maybe you created a video. Maybe it’s a virtual reality learning experience or something you created that uses augmented reality. Or a chatbot. Whatever it is, these will have all of their own training implementation issues as well (read our article on disruptive technologies in L&D with Dr. Stella Lee for more on some of these newer technologies).  

A Quick Word about Job Aids & Performance Support 

A quick back-track to what came up in analysis and design here for a moment: if you recall what we’ve learned from human performance improvement (HPI), sometimes training isn’t the answer. Sometimes performance support, even something as simple as a checklist, is a better solution.

So don’t forget that if your analysis and design told you that performance support is the solution, then it’s time to implement that performance support out in the workplace as well. Post your checklists, deploy those videos so they’re available on people’s mobile devices, and so on. 

Need some more information about performance support? Try these related articles:

Conclusion: Implementation Depends on Good Work in Analysis, Design, and Development

We hope you enjoyed this article in implementing training at a manufacturing site within the context or framework of the ADDIE training development model (remember, we’re not married to ADDIE and you don’t have to be either, it’s just a convenient and easy way to sequence our Manufacturing Training Insights article series). 

Stay tuned for an upcoming article--or maybe a few--about evaluating manufacturing training.

Let us know if you have questions and please share your own thoughts and experiences. 



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