Task Management: On-the-Job Training

A supervisor or coach can use a number of techniques to support the development of task management skills on the job. Indeed, much of what a supervisor does is supporting the task management processes of teams in high-risk environments.

Pre-Work Planning

The first critical element of training task management skills on the job is to facilitate effective pre-task planning. Most high-risk industries have pre-task planning as a formal requirement, and it is often supported with risk assessment and job planning aids. Ensuring that these processes are followed in a manner that ensures participant engagement is an important role of the supervisor or coach.

Contingency Planning

Another aspect of task management that lends itself perfectly to on- the-job training is contingency planning. Even as work unfolds in the dynamic environment, trainees can be asked to pause and reflect on what would be the best course of action or solution if a specific event were to occur. Subsequent coaching can reinforce the optimal technical and non-technical responses.

This process of posing a series of ‘what if?’ scenarios is particularly useful in low-workload stages of a task, such as during in-flight cruise, after induction of anaesthesia, or after any natural pause in the proceedings of work. It maintains cognitive engagement with the task, primes trainees in the case of that scenario actually occurring, and can activate important technical and procedural knowledge to maintain its recency and thus prevent decay.

Post-Event Debrief

A final strategy for developing task management strategies on the job is to facilitate critical reflection after a complex, high-workload event has been encountered. Drawing on the theory of professional development and reflective practice, non-technical skills such as task management can be constantly refined by critical reflection.

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