Starting a new career in the restoration industry can be a bit intimidating to many. After searching high and low for a new technician, you find a new tech; now what? The next step is to get them up and running and engage them in his/her new career.
The most basic things we must provide to a new person in our organizations are the tools to succeed. You may have an on-boarding program that helps to bring some deliberate approach to the process. (Are You On Board with Employee On-Boarding?)
A part of the on-boarding process or simply getting someone to be a productive member of the team is training him/her. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to transfer years of experience, training, and knowledge to a new person; therefore, we must proactively manage this process. To complicate things, most restoration companies offer a variety of services each requiring its own training and expertise.
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be involved in training in our industry and am rewarded and grateful for all of it; however, I have a favorite. My favorite class that we have is the Water Restoration Technician Course (WRT). It is exhilarating to be part of the experience of this particular class’s light bulbs going off. It is typically one of the first classes that a technician will take and there is a broad range of field experience from one day to a couple of years. They easily engage and are excited by the new-found knowledge. Every time we conclude a WRT class; it also gives me pause and I consider what we can do better to train in the field, day to day.
Becoming proficient in the variety of services we offer involves formal training, experiences, motivation to learn, grow and mentoring. Training in our industry goes beyond formal classes and training. As we navigate through the industry challenge of finding good people, the next challenge is to train and train properly.
The following are some tips to consider in developing the day to day training process in the field:
- Training Guide/Matrix: Develop a matrix or list of skills that your organization employs. Utilize it to guide the new person’s focus on their training, set goals, and communicate the objectives to others involved. This will help communicate expectations and get everyone training in the same direction. Below is a small sample of items that may be on the list, each with their own list of subcategories. As you develop this process, you can utilize the list to continually evaluate your company’s skill set globally and identify gaps.
- Water Losses < 1000 square feet
- Water Losses 1000- 5000 square feet
- Structure Clean
- Mold Remediation
- Media Blasting
- Carpet Cleaning
Share takeaways. When people come back from any class, have them share with the rest of the company important takeaways. This has several benefits:
- Retrain others and/or exposes them to changes or new information to consider.
- Reinforces the learnings of the recent graduates.
- Begins the training process for other new techs.
- Reinforces a field training culture.
- Gives insight to areas of opportunity to develop in-house and in-field training. For example, there was a technician that attended Fire & Smoke class after 6 months in the field, the tech was doing a wonderful job in such a short time and was heavily engaged in the contents restoration department, the take away from class, “Soot is acidic and can cause damage to the surface” This basic concept that explains the “why” and brings about greater understanding was not explained during the initial, field training. The reality is that is takes only seconds to add this to the field training process.
“What is more valuable than a great technician? A technician that can teach others to be as good or better than they are.” Reward and acknowledge those in your organization that are exceptional in their field training of others. This will again contribute to a training culture and also inspire this important skill in others. Remind some of your most experienced people, even at 3 a.m. on a water loss, to show and explain the proper setting of the air mover. (It takes seconds) A side benefit, for those sharing and teaching, it feels great and is rewarding.
- Feedback: Collect feedback and gather input from your new techs over the course of a year and learn what is most valuable and helpful to them in the training process. Feedback is also critical to make sure that your team is consistent in what they are training and it is in alignment with the company’s expectations. Field training is a critical component of training; however, carefully manage the “whisper down the alley” effect of process and procedure being slightly adjusted or changed by one passing along knowledge to the next person.
Training new technicians is a challenge and just a part of a larger on-boarding process. Furthermore, field training is just a part of training; however, it is extremely important to providing the new tech the skills to succeed and your organization the resources it needs. Grow and develop the restorers of the future; take them under your wing. You have a new excited technician!