Case Study

Conductor Training Program Assessment

Client Description
This premier rail transportation company operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states. They serve every major container port in the eastern United States and provide efficient connections to other rail carriers. The company developed and uses the most intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products.

The Challenge
It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to accurately evaluate a process when you are in entrenched in it on a daily basis. This client understood that principle and was seeking an outside partner to assess their current freight conductor training program for flaws and areas for improvement. With the current state of onboarding new conductor trainees, this assessment would provide the groundwork and foundation for a company-wide training program going forward.

Training Model
For GP Strategies to accurately assess the current state of the training program, open access to the client’s leadership, employees, processes, and documentation would be vital.

During the two-month engagement, data was collected in six different locations using the following methods:

  • Observation
  • Audit
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups

In addition remote/virtual focus groups convened and interviews were performed to reach the broadest cross-section of stakeholders. Hundreds of individual hurdles were found during the assessment, and GP Strategies was able to condense them to 11 overall challenges, which needed to be addressed by the client in order for an effective training program to be developed.

These challenges involved many areas, including the following:

  • Reducing class size
  • Increasing the percentage of time spent completing hands-on activities and structured on-the-job training
  • Creating a better cohesion between classroom and field training
  • Establishing training measurables and a process for evaluation
  • Improving standard work execution
  • Implementing change management with the goal of increasing the overall confidence in the program

The final report comments on the challenges of the current state program and follows up with recommendations for a future state that mitigates risk in the areas of concern. These suggestions and recommendations focus on the major characteristics that determine the success of a training program:

  • Effectiveness – Degree of desired outcome achieved
  • Measurability – Metrics verification of desired outcome
  • Repeatability – Consistency of product delivery
  • Length – Duration
  • Scalability – Ability to handle variations in training population

GP Strategies Solution
Eight major recommendations were made for the future state of the Conductor Training Program, including the training program, training process, and standard work execution. With all recommendations being embraced, both effectiveness and length of the program can be improved. An estimated 40% less onboarding time can be achieved.

This client decided to partner with GP Strategies to leverage their extensive experience, in not only assessing the current state and developing a consistent strategy, but also in executing the training model designed based on the challenges found and recommendations made. The foundation of this training model is a multi-tiered solution that addresses diverse skills gaps and training need. The process begins with a needs or gaps analysis, followed by training strategy and customized content development and delivery.

Summary
By partnering with GP Strategies, the customer was able to attain an “outside” and unbiased view of the current state of their Conductor Training Program. This impartial evaluation helped define specific challenges, which in turn led to recommendations for improvement. By continuing to work with GP Strategies, those solutions can be implemented in the most effective and timely fashion.

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Results at a glance
By partnering with GP Strategies, the customer was able to attain an “outside” and unbiased view of the current state of their Conductor Training Program. This impartial evaluation helped define specific challenges, which in turn led to recommendations for improvement. By continuing to work with GP Strategies, those solutions can be implemented in the most effective and timely fashion.

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