Employing Early Intervention from the Start—At the Academy

While more first-responder agencies see the value in employing early intervention to enhance employee performance and behavior, the ways such early intervention strategies should work with an academy’s training processes are often overlooked.

Early intervention is a means to help identify and measure individual behavior or performance, often to address compliance issues before they become problems.

Utilizing early intervention during training

Early intervention systems often include automated flagging of activities, allowing trainers and managers to preemptively address issues before they become more serious. This ability is why early intervention is helpful in training; it identifies behavior or actions that may require coaching or additional training.

When implemented from the start at the academy level, taking time to discuss inappropriate or concerning behavior with trainees not only helps to reduce occurrences of such behavior but also shows trainees you care enough to mentor them and offer suggestions on how they can improve their efforts and achieve success.
Empathetically delivered early intervention demonstrates compassion and ensures no one gets started on the wrong foot in their profession.

Benefits of early intervention in conjunction with an LMS

Having a formal, structured intervention process is especially important in today’s virtual environment.

During COVID-19 lockdowns, many academies incorporated more online learning. While this increases efficiency and gives academies the ability to reach more students, the decreased visibility of blended learning often makes it more difficult for instructors to know when students are struggling.

Monitoring new employees via targeted early intervention practices can help identify areas of concern that may need additional attention before escalation and everyone remains on the same page throughout training.

Early intervention supports differentiated learning

Incorporating early intervention with a learning management system (LMS) allows for nuanced levels of training that better meet student needs. Individuals who need extra support are identified, while those with mastery of a training topic or core value of your academy can move at an accelerated pace with confidence and even receive commendation to bolster their efforts.

Not every new employee learns at the same pace or in the same way. Some recruits may be quicker to pick up roles and responsibilities than others, and some may be more experienced with specific tasks.

Additionally, effectively monitoring which employees are up to speed and may need extra attention can make training more efficient, saving classroom time and effort. Early intervention monitoring with effective performance management also pinpoints how much more training is needed in general and what specific topics need to be addressed.

Across-the-board involvement is key

The idea of early intervention only works if everyone involved in the program believes in the process and the value it brings to an academy and commits to its success. From rookies involved in their first week of training to instructors, program supervisors, and senior management, early intervention works best when participation is high and everyone is on the same page.

Setting goals and communicating those consistently is vital to a successful early intervention framework. Goals should be specific, measurable, and achievable. All team members must understand their role and what that role entails.

Supervisor participation and engagement with staff are especially vital with any successful early intervention system (EIS).

Supervisors are often the “glue” that cements the leadership’s vision because supervisors spend the most time with the individuals the vision depends on.

To help instructors, supervisors, and senior management effectively monitor new recruits in early intervention efforts, they must have access to a performance management system that provides them access to every employee’s records, allows records to be disseminated as needed, and archives them in a secure environment.

A smart performance management system also helps an academy maintain legally defensible data in a secure environment and stay on task to meet the agency’s stated goals and requirements.

The human quotient

As crucial as record keeping and monitoring are in early intervention, though, it all boils down to people. Candid communication involves more than instruction and mentoring.

The most successful intervention programs involve effective two-way communication and the willingness to listen, whether peer to peer or employee to superior. They include good listeners on all levels. It’s only by listening and communicating honestly and empathetically with each other that first responder organizations reach their goals.

Curious to see what a more informed training system could look like?

Posted on Feb 10, 2022