How to tackle challenging behaviour during driver training

How to tackle challenging behaviour during driver training

Manager | RTITB Instructor Academy

We train hundreds of LGV, Driver CPC and Fleet Instructors every year, and we’re lucky that most of the candidates we work with are professional, motivated and engaged. However, this isn’t the case in every training scenario.

Just as the right driver behaviour is central to a productive, successful and safe transport or logistics workplace, the behaviour of individuals during training can have a big impact on its effectiveness. So, it’s no surprise that Instructors and trainers often ask us for guidance when it comes to managing, and reducing, challenging behaviour during driver training – particularly in the classroom, where many drivers are not at their most comfortable.

The good news is that there is plenty that Instructors and trainers can do to tackle this issue and ensure training effectiveness is maximised. Here are five key pieces of advice from our ‘train the trainer’ experts that might help your Instructors.

1. Communicate behaviour expectations clearly

This starts at a company level. It is essential for a business to first communicate the behaviour it wants to see from employees and embed this into the company’s culture. Then, this has the best chance of filtering through to behaviour during training.  

As part of their job role, employees should know which processes they are required to follow, and the way in which these should be actioned. They should know what standards are expected of them, and this includes an employer’s expectations of their behaviour. This should apply whether they are going about their day to day job, or they’re in the training room.

Ultimately, a person’s attitude is what will determine their behaviour in the training environment. A good attitude to the employer, the workplace and the job will usually extend to more positive behaviours during training.  

2. Create a suitable learning environment

If employees are required to complete tasks in poor working conditions, over long extended hours, with little or no extra incentive, then problems tend to arise which impact performance, effectiveness and behaviour. The same applies to training.

A proactive approach to improving behaviour is much more effective than a reactive approach. Managing behaviour is not just about Instructors responding to inappropriate behaviour – it is employers and their training teams creating conditions that encourage positive behaviour.

Ensuring that a learning environment is comfortable makes trainees more open to learning, which in turn improves their behaviour during the session. Likewise, employers should ensure there is ample time – some candidates will be more likely to exhibit negative behaviours in a highly time pressured environment. Though you may find that some will thrive on it.

3. Set a positive tone

When an Instructor is running a training session, it’s part of their job to set the tone. So, for a positive environment, it’s important that the trainer meets people in a friendly manner and uses a calm tone of voice. Instructors should remain approachable, friendly and polite throughout the training, even to the most awkward candidates that they may be tempted to try and talk over! 

It can also be helpful for Instructors to try to learn a little bit about the candidates beforehand or find out some personal information about them during the training, so that a relationship can be built. This encourages a friendly, respectful atmosphere in the training room that is more conducive to ‘good’ behaviour.

Knowing the subject well and being confident in delivery also gives Instructors credibility in the eyes of training candidates, which can also help reduce negativity.

4. Identify challenging candidates

Challenging behaviour can come from loud and outspoken candidates who are easily picked out in the training room. Trainers should try to turn this into a positive, and where possible use these outspoken candidates as a learning resource for others. Often some of their points are valid but may just be delivered inappropriately.

However, quiet candidates can be just as difficult. Trainers should look to identify and involve these trainees to build their confidence and engagement and improve their attitude to the training. As trainees have different learning styles, Instructors may find that changing their training delivery method can make a difficult candidate more receptive and lead to a positive change in behaviour.

Just as an employer should in the workplace, Instructors should remember to recognise and reward good behaviours during training, as this makes these behaviours more likely to be repeated.

5. Address behaviour issues directly

If poor behaviour does arise, we recommend that Instructors always confront and deal with it at the earliest opportunity. When teaching a group of candidates, Instructors may need to speak directly to any challenging individuals to let them know that even though their concerns are fully understood, that their behaviour is disrupting others.  

Break times are ideal for speaking to challenging candidates and learning more about their concerns, as Instructors can assess if anything can be done to address these straight away. However, if poor behaviour persists, it should not be ignored. Instructors should provide direct and constructive feedback on the reasons why it is not acceptable and the possible outcomes of continuing with that behaviour.

It all starts with the right Instructor training

Driver training requires Instructors to have a high level of skill and knowledge. Of course, this should include an in-depth grasp of the subject matter on which they deliver training, but it is equally important for these Instructors to know how to deal with adult learners who might not always be fully engaged. So, employers who want to get the best out of their training programmes should always ensure that Instructors have expertise in both of these respects. 

The RTITB Instructor Academy, for instance, specialises in training the trainer, with courses that are designed to equip Instructors, Trainers and Assessors with both the knowledge and the confidence to encourage genuine behavioural change amongst trainees, and manage even the most difficult candidates.

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