Why Tribal Knowledge is a Disadvantage to Your Workplace Training

When your training program is haphazard, trainers and trainees will fill in any gaps with their own shortcuts and systems. This “tribal knowledge” might get the job done in the short term, but it’s dangerous to your organization in the long term.

Tribal KnowledgeMistaken confidence

How does tribal knowledge evolve? It’s not intentional. Workplace trainers are human, and often up against a lot of pressure to get training completed quickly – so they can get back to work themselves, as well as get trainees up to speed and productive. When faced with poorly structured training, they do what they need to do to get through the process. This becomes the system carried on from new hire to new hire.

But it’s not about failing to follow protocol – if protocols aren’t established, trainers can’t be blamed for making the best of things. The problem with tribal knowledge is it “never gets stored anywhere but in people’s heads, so the same questions get answered over and over through oral tradition. By never capturing this information or making it easily available the speed and productivity of these organizations is negatively impacted.”

Even if a shortcut works initially, over time incorrect procedures can result in expensive problems, or even injury. And unlearning ingrained processes is that much harder.

Getting it right the first time

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden

Muscle memory is an amazing thing, aiding the process of everything from playing a complicated piano concerto to shooting a basketball with net-swishing precision. But if you learn how to shoot the ball or hold a violin bow wrong, it takes a lot of effort to repair that muscle memory.

This is true of Operations and Maintenance procedures as well, and ultimately affects a trainee’s worth to the company: “Without proper training, employees can’t work to their full potential. This can lead to lowered sales, underwhelming customer service or substandard work. Many times, that means expensive turnover, both through firing and because employees may not feel up to the work.”

Organizations are already reluctant to spend money on training – wasting money training incorrectly won’t help sway them. So what’s the answer?

A ‘Loss-less’ system for training built on technology

Training needs to become less of a “chore” for all concerned. Training is necessary to ensure worker safety and productivity, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. Technology like 3D Interactive Simulation solves a host of problems by being engaging, self-paced, and portable.

Not every moment of the training process must be done at work, and not all of it requires the presence of a trainer. Trainees can explore tasks via 3D simulation modules on an iPad, for example. The technology can test as it teaches, and no steps are missed as they might be due to human error during live training.

This makes time spent with instructors that much more productive too, because trainees can ask better questions once they’ve gone through the process via the simulation. Instead of asking about vague concepts printed in a manual, they can clarify and enhance knowledge of actual workplace tasks.

Not only do they retain more quickly via the “learn by doing” approach 3D Interactive Simulation offers, they learn properly from the start – so they don’t have to unlearn and relearn. And trainers don’t have to worry about missing steps and creating shortcuts, as the entire training program is contained within the Interactive modules.

Everyone has the same understanding, keeping the workplace “tribe” unified and safe. As it should be.

Reach out to discover how our 3D Interactive Training apps can help your business transfer skills efficiently.