Kurt: Due to modern technology, an often overlooked training style is the in-person or in-the-field method. Actually getting out with individuals allows you to see how they interact and operate with the in-the-field tasks assigned to them. Classroom teaching is one method I believe is too often relied upon.
We all remember our childhood school days — and how we often thought more about what we’d be doing after school vs. what the teacher was actually saying. Why do we expect adults to behave differently? After all, we’re in an industry where the majority of our staff spends most of their time outside.
There are two ways to approach training away from the classroom. First, if you must do the training in a group format, either recreate the environment that you’ll be training about or find a location other than the classroom that will mimic the environment.
The second style I believe is too often overlooked involves parking your car as the manager or supervisor and getting in the vehicle with the service personnel. You can gain so much insight about where additional training is needed by riding along. If they fumble parts of the job that should be routine or procedural, you’ll get some insight into how they behave when you’re not there. This also allows you to work with them in their environment on a one-on-one basis. They won’t feel threatened or embarrassed to admit their ignorance like they might in front of peers. Showing the staff that’s out in the field every day working hard that you’re willing to train with them in their environment is the most important method of training.
Eric: While Kurt brings up good points about in-the-field training, I believe virtual or scripted training is even more important. If you simply hop in the truck with a technician or salesperson, you’ll observe many different situations. However, since we see so many different things in our business, having uniform training for everyone is critical.
When you use scripted training — with an instructor, a video or an online program — you put everyone on a level playing field. The basic training should prepare the person to deal with any situation that arises. Give people the basic knowledge and tools, and they’ll be able to use their critical thinking skills to figure it out. I feel it’s crucial to keep us all talking and doing the same things.
Yes, ride alongs are important, but they cannot be your only training method. Do you think technicians or salespeople act the same way and do the same things when you’re riding with them vs. when they’re by themselves? Kurt brought up how you can tell whether they do something the right way all the time by how well it comes off, or if they are stumbling around. However, some employees become so nervous when riding with a boss that they mess up things they normally wouldn’t.
Don’t overlook the importance of classroom training and putting everyone on the same page so all employees have the tools they need to get the job done.