Training in teams

October 2, 2007
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Using teams in safety training classes is a great way to increase training effectiveness and retention. Research has shown that we often learn best when we learn from peers, and teams can help to facilitate this process. Teams also help to avoid the “training trance” — which can be caused by a trainer who lectures endlessly — by getting class attendees involved in their own training.

Creative team-building
When forming teams, try to mix up trainees so each team consists of a random selection of trainees. If you simply assign everyone at table one to team one, everyone at table two to team two, and so forth, you are likely to get sets of friends on each team. Counting off is an easy way to mix up teams, but it is not very interesting or related to the content.

For more effective team formation, one way to mix up your trainees is to place various sets of items into a brown bag or box. If you are teaching a class on lockout/tagout, and you use different color-coded locks in your company program, you can easily use the locks to divide the class. If you have 20 people in your class and need four teams of five people each, place five green locks, five red locks, five blue locks and five black locks in the box and ask each trainee to select a lock without looking. When everyone has a lock, you can place people into teams according to the color lock they selected. Not only does this allow you to divide trainees randomly but also to use a visual aid related to the class topic.

Introducing activities
Now that you have teams organized, it is time to introduce the activities. Explain the safety training game or activity before individual trainees move to form their teams. A few games are described below. (For more on using games and activities in safety training, request a free eBook on the subject at www.gamesforsafety.com.)

1) Movies on Target: The object of this activity is for each team to come up with an “ARROW” rating. Since many safety trainers use videos in their training, this is a great way to make a class more interactive when a video provides most of the content. Tell the class that, after watching the video, each team will be responsible for coming up with an ARROW rating for that video. The process is simple. Team members should discuss the video and rate it 1-5 (one is the worst and five is the best) in the following categories: A (Acting), R (Realistic), R (Relevant), O (Organized) and W (Workplace Safety).

For example, if the video had horrible acting and was very unrealistic, but was extremely relevant to your workplace, well organized and showed a very safe workplace overall, the ARROW rating might be A=1, R=1, R=5, O=4 and W=5, or 16 overall (out of a possible 25 points). After all teams have come up with their ARROW ratings, go around the room and ask each team to report their rating and then write the ratings on a flip chart or board. This likely will lead to a lively and humorous discussion and definitely more interaction. It will also help trainers decide which videos to use in the future.

2) Safety Line: In this training game, after teams are organized, give each group a large piece of plain paper with a large word or short phrase related to the topic written across the top, with a small space between each letter. If possible, give each team a different word or phrase but be careful that each group has a word or phrase with the same number of letters.

Tell the teams they have five minutes to write a word vertically under each letter of the main word or phrase, but the words they write must be related to the class topic. They should be careful not to repeat any of the words. If teams think of a word for each letter of the main word or phrase before time is up, they should try to add additional words under each letter.

At the end of the allotted time, ask the teams to give themselves one point for each word they put down. Announce the group with the most points as the winner (and if possible, give winning team members a small prize). Have the winning team share all of their words with the class.

3) Crossword Puzzle: Another great team game is a group crossword puzzle that has clues related to the class material. Give each group a puzzle you create and ask the trainees to work on completing the puzzle as a team. (A sample crossword puzzle can be downloaded at www.safetycrosswords.com.) The crossword is a familiar format, yet it is challenging and requires them to think about all of the class content.

Safety in numbers
Some of the best safety training games and activities use teams. Teams are a great way to increase learning, participation and enjoyment of training classes.

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Recent Articles by Linda Tapp, CSP, ALCM

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