Who is the best person to train you – a colleague or an external ‘expert’?
This is an interesting question and is of course quite complex with a multitude of variables to consider. If it is a purely technical or clinical matter then I believe another similarly qualified expert with knowledge of the issues and techniques is generally preferable. However I believe that when it comes to Human Factors (non-technical, non-clinical, non-medical) concepts there is an argument that says an outside 'fresh pair of eyes' can have a significant advantage.
I can understand why you may disagree with this statement. How can someone who hasn't done the job themselves possibly have any in depth understanding of the pressures, stresses and nuances of your decision making? How could they, an outsider, achieve that essential experience gained through days/weeks/ years of hard graft?
Let me confess that in my 'old' life as a pilot in a major airline, we chose to go down the 'peer' training route. However it must be said that I now believe this meant we had to learn the lessons from scratch and went down a few unhelpful blind alleys. One was failing to grasp, for some years, that describing technical and non-technical skills as being separate was erroneous and unhelpful. What woke me up was when one of our senior managers said "it was such a high-workload that we didn't have time for any of that 'Human Factors stuff'! This demonstrated a complete misunderstanding that human cognitive and social skills are present at all times and are an integral part of all performance as an individual and team member. It wasn't his fault, it was ours.
Fast forward 25 years later and Human Factors is completely embedded in aviation – ask my son who is 6 years into his commercial aviation career.
As peer instructors we also had to blend training and debriefing of Human Factors non-technical skills into our colleagues 'technical' training. This proved a hard obstacle. It is acknowledged that the optimum method of encouraging behaviour change is by facilitation – helping students and peers to find their own solutions. This style of facilitative training and coaching was alien to aviation 'instructors' who were used to telling people what to do and how to do it.With behaviour change this rarely works, consider interaction with teenagers!
People have got to want to make changes and have to truly understand how and why. Many instructors focus on the technical problem and/or focus on blame and this can mean they often struggle to see the underlying Human Factors issue beneath, such as communication, hierarchy, or overload.
Now we come all the way back to the advantages of an outsider expert. There is no in-house hierarchy barrier. The outsider expert doesn't know the technical, clinical, medical issues in depth and hence don't get confused, or distracted by them. Another advantage is that they also bring with them a wide diversity of experience from other health and social care provider sites and teams. Finally, an outsider expert can also easily observe and debrief on the human factors issues and ask those awkward but telling questions about team interaction which can help facilitate learning and positive change quicker.
Understanding the concepts, the routes to normal error making and the ways in which human factors training can and does genuinely improve all human behaviours is what we can help you achieve.
We'd like to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please let us know.