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The Importance Of Confidence In Training

The importance of confidence in training

What is the most important part of training?  Learning new technical skill?   Developing human factors?  Debriefing? The test?  Clearly each is an essential part of the skills development process. But if we zoom out, and ask why we train, then an important picture emerges.  Industries that apply extensive training generally have quite a lot at stake; in extremis a nuclear plant is vulnerable to a radiation leak, an airliner could crash, or a patient could go into anaphylactic shock.  Industries with identified risk therefore aim for predictability and routine.  Training ‘plans out’ error and safety margins are created.   However much we plan, threats can still emerge.  Taking aviation as an example, crew achieve routine and safe management of the operation by applying tools such as standard operating procedures, checklists and team skills.  Occasionally, crew may be faced with problems or challenges that require them to call on contingency training.  Even though the industry goes to great lengths to avoid failure, it still happens; a broken fuel pump, a medical emergency, a fire.  Unpredictable errors can be mitigated over very short timescales; a paramedic may only have a very short time to assess a patient before administering life-saving treatment, yet the training they receive allows them to operate effectively under extreme pressure. They have the tools and the confidence to contain the situation.  On a micro-level, good training balances the demand for technical and nontechnical competency alongside regulatory requirements – these are the ‘tools’. At the higher level, building a trainee’s confidence to apply a tool is as important as giving them the tools in the first place.  Google the word “confidence” and you get the definition; “the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something”.  Confidence is an incredibly powerful tool in itself – perception of personal ability correlates with performance – particularly when under pressure.  Achieving the right balance is something a good trainer will strive to achieve in the training environment, so that trainees are equipped with the skills they need, and if the need arises, are able to safely manage a situation to conclusion.

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