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Virtual CRM Instructor Course

Posted 3 years 194 days ago ago by Admin

With the advent of the Corona-19 virus pandemic, the workforce world-wide has had to adapt to an alternate way to approach their job.  I am no different as I teach and facilitate a 5-day CRM Instructor course.  Training to be an effective CRM instructor relies on learning how to become an effective facilitator, a skill I teach in my Instructor classes.  To be a successful facilitator, facilitation techniques must be practiced on others to achieve the desired result of changing adult behavior.  With the raging pandemic curtailing in-person interactions, learning to be a facilitator in aviation in a virtual setting is something the aviation industry has had to adapt to. 

Many airlines and CRM training facilities have been forced to alter their approach to presenting CRM from an in-person classroom setting, to going virtual via Zoom meeting.  

At the beginning of this year, I had a 5-day CRM course scheduled in March to be held in Orlando, Florida at Advent Health hospital which I had to cancel due to the virus.  At that point, in my mind because a CRM instructor course is forty-percent in-person practice in front of the other attendees in the group, I naturally assumed I would not be able to offer another instructor / facilitator course until the pandemic was over.  That is until a Swiss helicopter pilot, Mr. Lorenz Nufer, a type rating instructor who flies for Mountain Flyers Switzerland reached out and convinced me to give him my CRM Instructor course via Zoom meeting.    

Once he’d signed up and payment was made, I sent him my 300-page full color CRM Instructor’s manual with accompanying 5 gig flash drive that held the 14 Power Point modules, video clips, pictures and slides.  I told him that once he received it to study it cover-to-cover and fully familiarize himself with running through each Power Point presentation module.  Then, once he felt he was ready, we arranged our timings to meet on Zoom meeting.

Over those 3 days we went right through the manual together.  We began by going through the first module in the CRM Instructor manual entitled Role as Facilitator that to me is probably the most important module because it lays out the blueprint to become a successful facilitator.  From that 29-page module we discussed, among many other topics listed, the differences between instruction and facilitation.  The role the trainer plays in creating the training environment for the class to include first impressions, authority gradient, and body language.  Other topics in that module are:

The 4 basic skills needed to be an effective facilitator:  

1) The ability to anticipate in the problem-solving and decision-making process and stay several steps ahead of the class.

2) Possess strategies to support the group’s social and cognitive processes.

3) Ability to remain neutral regarding content, issues and values.

4) Respect the group’s need to understand and learn from the problem-solving process.

Characteristics of a Facilitator:

A facilitator asks rather than tells, pays personal compliments, is willing to spend time in building relationships rather than always being task orientated, initiates conversation rather than waiting for someone else to.  A facilitator asks for other’s opinions rather than always having to offer their own. They negotiate rather than dictate decision-making. They listen without interrupting.  They are empathetic but able to be restrained when the situation requires it. Draws energy from outside themselves rather than from within. Bases decisions upon intuitions rather than having to face the facts. A facilitator is self-confident. A facilitator is persuasive, enthusiastic, outgoing. A facilitator is more like a counselor than a drill sergeant! A facilitator is naturally curious about people, things and life in general. A facilitator can keep the “big picture‟ in mind while working on the nitty-gritty.  From that module we discussed the eight features of adult learning, environmental barriers to learning, personal barriers to learning etc. We discussed the session plan checklist and the concept of Must Cover—Should Cover—Could Cover when presenting.  We talked about using the white board and flip chart mentioned in that module.  We discussed facilitation techniques, also listed in that module.  Those are just a few of many topics we discussed in our first meeting together. Subsequent meetings we went through the remaining modules together which were:

Why CRM?  The history of CRM and effect on air safety.

Human error and reliability, error chain, threat and error management.

Information acquisition and processing

Situation awareness

Company safety culture, SOPs, Organizational factors

Pilot and Air Crew Decision making (PDM)

Communication and coordination inside and outside the helicopter. How team communication can affect the outcome of the task. Conflict resolution.

Leadership and Teambuilding, behavior, group synergy, Conflict resolution.

Stress, Stress management, Fatigue and vigilance

Workload management

Surviving the wires environment


Case studies

I also took plenty of time to answer any questions that came up in conversation or after reviewing the manual.

Here is what Lorenz took away after our 3 days doing our ‘virtual’ CRM instructor’s course which he wrote to me afterward: 

I can unreservedly recommend the carefully documented course materials and the online training with Randy Mains to every aviator.  Randy is a passionate CRM trainer. His breadth of knowledge and commitment as well as his vast experience in the most diverse branches of aviation made the course and the discussions with Randy a highlight and a great learning experience. I am available personally at any time to answer any questions - do not hesitate to contact me on Face Book.

After my 3-days one-on-one with Lorenz, I see that a ‘virtual’ CRM Instructor’s course has a lot of merit so I have decided to give more ‘virtual’ classes to those interested.  At present I have 6 people who have either signed up or have expressed an interest in taking the course. 

I do look forward to the day when I can give in-person 5-day courses again but I have come to realize that doing it virtually is not a bad way to go considering the circumstances we’re in and the obvious desire of others to become CRM Instructors for their organization.

About Randy:
Randy Mains is an author, public speaker, and a CRM/AMRM consultant who works in the helicopter industry after a long career of aviation adventure. He currently serves as chief CRM/AMRM instructor for Oregon Aero. He may be contacted at [email protected].