Tamara Simon's Weekly Blog
Business Insights for RTOs
from my favourite Movies, TV Shows and Books
(and some other bits and pieces)
Is Your Expectation Based on Fact or Hearsay?
Why you may have an unrealistic expectation of your staff’s workload
Many RTOs have targets or KPIs (key performance indicators) for some or all of their staff. And that’s great because it gives people a clear idea of what they have to do in their job to meet expectation. Or does it?
What if instead, these targets are creating more stress for yourself and your team rather than being a ‘stretch’ target?
People Performance Insights for RTOs
One of the most common questions I get asked is:
How do I get my staff to meet their workload requirements (aka do their jobs better)?
And my response will always have a few layers because there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to that question. However, there is a common theme which has to be analysed first, and that’s this:
What data did you use to determine these targets?
And this is where it gets interesting because whether you’re determining your trainer to student ratio, the number of enrolments and completions the admin team should be processing each week, or sales and marketing targets; it’s important to ensure these targets are based on what can realistically be achieved rather than supposed industry benchmarks or historical data.
Before you set targets, you should ask yourself these key questions:
- What are the external factors which can impact on the target being achieved – some of which can be controlled and some can’t?
- How long does it take to do the task? And what are you basing this information on – how long you used to take to do it or what someone told you?
- If it’s based on your experience, how long has it been since you did the task because maybe it’s changed substantially since then? These changes could include legislative, technology, contractual or compliance requirements.
- Is the task clearly documented so the person can easily follow it or do they have to ‘remember’ what to do which will impact on productivity and performance?
- Are the industry benchmarks you’re measuring against accurate either in the past or in today’s working environment; or are they hearsay (myth) which turned into a poor reality?
Let me share with you an example to consider.
I’ve been in VET for over 20 years and in all that time, I’ve ‘heard’ the industry benchmark of a trainer/student workload for workplace delivery is 100 students.
And this was the conversation I recently had with an RTO CEO who said this was her expectation. But her trainers were only managing 50-60 students so she asked me how she could get them up to the industry benchmark.
My first question was: Who was telling her this was the industry benchmark and could she tell me what that really meant? What work was involved in order to achieve the 100 students per trainer benchmark?
Her response was ‘I’m not sure’ which is what I usually get when I raise this question with anyone running an RTO.
Now this magical 100 students may have come about 15 years or so again when workplace delivery was often this – a trainer turned up, gave the books to the students, occasionally visited or checked in with the students, and that was about it. (Now I’m being flippant for a reason so please stay with me).
But let’s look at what workplace delivery really means – in very basic numbers.
In a normal work day (which should be 8 hours), I believe you can realistically see only 3-4 individual students a day. Why?
- Travel time to get to each workplace including traffic
- See each student for up to an hour which may or may not include chats with their supervisor, training support and guidance, and undertaking assessment
- Dealing with the unexpected
- Lunch and toilet breaks
Granted if you’re doing group training and the workplaces are located close together, then you may get to 5 -6 students a day. And I know you can do the math and say that’s conservatively 20 students a week, 80 students a month so it’s easy to get to the 100 students workload.
Wrong! Because as a trainer, on top of workplace delivery, you still have to ….
- Have some time off from training every day – otherwise your brain will fry from mental fatigue and/or boredom.
- Mark assessments (knowledge and practical) for all of these students.
- Support all of these students to ensure their questions are responded to in a timely manner, and they are helped so they continue to progress rather than being stuck (or worse withdrawing because that’s income you’ve lost).
- Review and update training and assessment material so it doesn’t get stale for students, as well as being current against legislative and training package changes.
- Validate (or assist with) training and assessment material, and participate in moderation meetings to ensure everyone has made consistent judgments against the Assessor Marking Guide.
- Undertake other tasks which I’ve probably forgotten about like talking to potential students before they enrol to see if they and the training program are the right fit.
- Have at least 4 weeks holiday a year (shock horror).
I’m happy to be proven wrong but I believe this is the REALISTIC workload of a Trainer so please tell me how the ‘industry benchmark’ of 100 students is valid, especially if you’re focused on quality training outcomes for your students rather than churning through the numbers?
Is it any wonder we have stressed out trainers and assessors, as well as those of you running the RTO, because your expectations are based on incomplete or inaccurate data?
So do you have realistic or unrealistic expectations on what you and your team can achieve?
Do you need to re-look at your targets and make sure they truly reflect the capacity and capability of your team?
And here’s my final thought:
I’ve only shared an example of a Trainer Workload.
The same issues are constantly told to me by Admin and Compliance staff so if you truly want to build, manage and grow a simple profitable RTO business which everyone loves to be part of, then I hope you take on board the messages in this blog for all positions, not just trainers.
One of the biggest challenges facing every workplace today is staff feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, resulting in stress leave and possibly having to also manage mental health issues.
Please be part of the solution and not keep contributing to the problem.
PS: If you have found some tips and inspiration from this blog (and I hope you have), I’d love you to please share it amongst your RTO contacts and on your social media platforms.
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