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You can't train stupid

20 April, 2018

I can’t drive a truck.  Well, that’s not exactly right.  It’s probably more accurate to say that I can drive a truck into positions that are not supposed to be possible.  I have managed to reverse a truck so that the back wheels go so far up a wall that the tray tips over.  Or somehow articulate the truck so that it is totally impossible to get out without being lifted by a loader.  It is a skill that has cost me many cartons of beer.

But I can blow things up.  I don’t know why, but explosives make sense to me.  I can tell the quantity and type of explosives to achieve different, and sometimes difficult, outcomes.  I have actually made back a few of the beers that I have paid out for my truckscapades by being able to perform some tricky blasting.

Not being able to drive a truck does not make me, or anyone else, stupid.  That was just a headline to catch your attention, and it must have worked if you are still reading.  But different people have different skills and abilities. How often do our training and progression plans recognise this?  Most plans that I have encountered follow a path from the entry level task to the most complex or critical tasks.  If you can’t make it past the lower level positions, you don’t have a chance.

When we employ someone who is new to our industry, do we try to determine their natural abilities?  It doesn’t have to be rocket science.  If they are not very good at driving a light vehicle in the work environment, they probably won’t do well on a truck.  If they are good with machines and have a good grasp on rock mechanics, you might have yourself a great driller.  If they treat people like crap, they are not a good supervisor.

Of course, there is a Pandora’s box of wages and progression and, in some cases, union involvement that comes with this.  Not to mention the time that most trainers just don’t have.  But it’s worth thinking about.  When we put people into positions that they are not suitable for, it creates a bad situation for everyone.  Production suffers, safety is compromised and the person in the unsuitable position becomes stressed, overwhelmed and quite possibly worried about their job.

I (and many other people) were lucky that my truck driving days were numbered as they were part of a graduate engineering program.  But if that had not been the case, I never would have made it to a blast crew position where I could actually make a significant contribution in the workplace.  And that would have been a shame for everyone.

In case you think you may have heard the title phrase, or something like it, before, it is an adaptation of a comedy routine by the great Ron White.  The video is featured below but please be aware that it contains content that may not be appropriate for the workplace.  And if you like this article, please share using the social bar below.

Check out the youtube video.