The Argument for Avoiding Training Cuts


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In this article, Sherry Michaels, President of Michaels & Associates, tells the story of Flight 1549, her first formal corporate training as a flight attendant, and the critical role that training plays in today's business success.

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The Argument for Avoiding Training Cuts

  1. 1. T H E A R G U M E N T F O R AV O I D I N G T R A I N I N G C U T S
  2. 2. THE ARGUMENT FOR AVOIDING TRAINING CUTS ~ Share This! ~ Post this to your blog, Twitter™, LinkedIn® or Delicious™ accounts or email this to someone who might enjoy it. Share Remix Attribute Share Alike 11639 E. Wethersfield Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85259 USA Toll-free: 877-614-84402Page © 2009 by Michaels & Associates Docntrain, Ltd. dba Michaels & Associates Copyright holder is licensing this under the Creative Commons License, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0. For more information, check out
  3. 3. THE ARGUMENT FOR AVOIDING TRAINING CUTST H E A R G U M E N T F O R AV O I D I N GTRAINING CUTSIn this article, Sherry Michaels, President of Michaels & Associates, tellsthe story of Flight 1549, her first formal corporate training as a flightattendant, and the critical role that training plays in todays businesssuccess. 3 Page
  4. 4. THE ARGUMENT FOR AVOIDING TRAINING CUTS Heroism and Skill On January 15, 2009 U.S. Airways Flight 1549 was successfully piloted in an emergency landing on the Hudson River. Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger and his skillful, well-trained crew got every passenger to the wings where they were evacuated by tug, ferry and emergency crews. If you know me as President of Michaels & Associates, you might not know that I was a flight attendant for American Airlines many years ago. My first formal corporate training was as a flight attendant. It was in that rigorous, high pressure environment that I learned my primary duty and true focus was to ensure the safety of my passengers. I learned how to work with all the flight crew, even if we’d only just met that day. I learned never to leave the aircraft before the last passenger. The training was extraordinary and I’ve never forgotten it. I probably could still locate the emergency equipment on one of today’s aircraft. In fact, it has been a nearly lifelong habit to make a point of locating equipment and exits whenever I fly. There is no way to express the pride I felt for U.S. Airway’s flight crew from Flight 1549. The safety of a 155 people is the ultimate in accomplishment from a truly dicey situation. Bravo!!! Every flight attendant past or present all over the world admires this feat. Captain Sullenberger’s resume is formidable. This event exemplifies skill, fortitude ability combined with his amazing research and commitment to airline safety. More than this, however, I have heard4Page
  5. 5. THE ARGUMENT FOR AVOIDING TRAINING CUTSover and over again one word with regard to this daring feat: training. With skill, courage and experience a good caliber person can do much. Withtraining, that person pulls it all together and does great things. National Transportation Safety Board member Kitty Higgins, referring to thecommendable actions of the crew, is quoted as saying, “Miracles happen because a lot of everyday things happen for years and years and years.These people knew what they were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, nobody lost their life.” The “everyday things” are rooted in training.With training, flight crews know every craft to which they are assigned truly like the backs of their hands. They know all the service and emergencyequipment procedures and they know the evacuation procedures. The pilots practice emergency landings over and over, and the attendants practiceemergency evacuations under timed and extreme pressure. They must “qualify” periodically to be able to continue to fly. They are required to take“refresher” courses and must excel at them. “Passing” is a very high bar, and the crew member’s ego is usually not a consideration. There is nosoftening of the blow if a member fails to qualify. If they do not pass initially, sometimes they can train more thoroughly in another session and thusattain qualification, but there’s no “sliding” rigor of the bar.The training is never far from your mind. It is so ingrainedthat during my tenure as flight attendant, I used to havedreams at night that I was evacuating passengers. I awokeafter that dream grateful that I hadn’t had my skills tested,but there was never a time I was unsure of my skills or mytraining. I could evacuate as many people safely as wouldbe needed. I knew it. It was a part of me. It was my second,and through training, perhaps my primary nature. 5 Page
  6. 6. THE ARGUMENT FOR AVOIDING TRAINING CUTS Every Company Needs Training With the economy as it is, it is tempting for any company to cut in areas that might not show a direct impact on the balance sheet. It is true that training is one of the first areas examined and subsequently cut, because the correlation of training to revenue is, admittedly, a stretch. However, studies show that companies who train more are more profitable, even though there are no “hard dollar” connections between bottom line focused activities and most training. Conscious of that fact, training professionals are far more aware that through training, we can contribute to revenues, reduce operation costs and increase sales performance. Good training can reduce risk. Undoubtedly, the expense line for U.S. Airways for training is a significant line. Yet, the results from Flight 1549 would have been potentially tragic without these magnificent crew members having been properly trained. The risks and liabilities to U.S. Airways would have been nearly catastrophic, not to mention that all passengers and their families risked suffering irrecoverable personal losses. Training reduces risks and liabilities. The loss of an aircraft is expensive. The loss of a 155 people would have been horrific. Before this event, U.S. Airways learning professionals may not have been able to defend to management the need to expand the expense line for training to their own satisfaction. It seems6Page
  7. 7. THE ARGUMENT FOR AVOIDING TRAINING CUTSreasonable to assume that every member of the board of that airline is most grateful the training expense line was as healthy as it was. Perhaps thelearning organization within its corporate headquarters might well be able to justify an additional expense even if it can’t prove a direct return oninvestment. Further, with this extraordinary turn of events, the saving of all the passengers from a terrible fate, U.S. Airways has gained respect in theindustry, the flying public and in the world.Despite the truism that your company may never face an emergency as dramatic as Flight 1549’s, it is important to note that great employees performoptimally only with great training. Great training can increase your corporate prestige, revenues, and sales performance. It can mitigate risks andliabilities. Cutting training reduces your company’s ability to respond in emergencies, reduces your options and increases your risks and liabilities. Itweakens your company for the time recovery is possible. Of all areas, training is a very expensive line item to cut.~ Sherry Michaels, President, Michaels & Associates toll-free: 877-614-8440 7Page