Last summer, I read an article that stuck in my memory. It was about US Airways pilots who, because of the increase in fuel prices, were forced to take fuel-management courses if they ordered an extra few minutes of fuel for their flights.
One former Continental pilot Bruce Meyer, said he had to hide that
he was putting a safety cushion of fuel on board.
Then US Airways pilots took out an ad that said the airline “embarked on a program of intimidation to pressure your captain to reduce fuel loads.” Senior pilots — those who are well aware of the vagaries of flights — were targeted for (gasp!) fuel conservation training.
Their punishment was training!
Part of this is the humiliation they felt at being senior pilots and being relegated to re-training as if they were rookies or didn’t know what they were doing.
One pilot said he felt the airline was “selecting a few and hoping to intimidate the remainder of our pilot group to not add fuel when they feel they might need a little fuel. So hoping if they punish a few, the rest of the pilot group will get in line.”
Again, punishment is related to training.
Do your people see training as punishment? Even if you think of it as sharpening their ax, refining their skills, reinforcing previous trainings, if they feel it’s punishment it will not only be a waste of everyone’s time, but will have a negative impact, not the positive one you were hoping for.
I’ve encountered this way too many times in my nearly 30 years in the training and development profession. Groups enter the classroom telling me they don’t want to be there, it’s a waste of time, they have more important things to do, their boss sent them. They start the day disengaged — arms crossed, texting on their phones, answering emails on their laptops, even reading. There is very little even a great instructor can do to turn around a group who believes they are being punished by attending forced training.
Much more successful is making training a reward for high potentials, as a chance to enhance their skills and make them more promotable. But very few managers know how to do this properly. I help my clients position training in a way that gets the maximum ROI. How they frame it to their people is important.
If you’d like to discuss how to do this with your team, just give me a call.
Of course, the airlines in the above examples, insisted that the re-training was not for disciplinary reasons. Try explaining that to the pilots with a straight face.