One of the premier HVACR publications conducts an annual contest to name the best contractors to work for. In order for the contest to be fair, there are several size categories because, after all, an HVACR company that has 125 employees can do things differently than a company that has less than ten technicians in the field. And, the contractors that compete for the top award in each category are evaluated on many different points relative to the management of their business and the systems they set up so their employees can do their job, because, like I said, there are several different size categories, and large companies do things differently than smaller organizations. However, when you review the list of winners every year, there is one common thread that stands out for each of the companies…large, medium or small…that win the top prize.

Each and every one of them has an active, well-structured, in-house training program.

Of course, setting up an in-house training program is often easier for larger contractors. They have more resources and often have a person on staff whose only job is to develop and manage the in-house training, and, more often that not, be the main presenter for the regularly scheduled sessions. However, when it comes to smaller contractors, the harsh reality is that they just don’t have the same resources at hand. And establishing a program is more difficult, with the task often becoming the responsibility of  an already very busy service manager, or the service company owner.

And, more often than not, the service manager or service company owner with fewer than 10 technicians is not an instructor by craft. They’re former technicians who made the transition to ownership and management. Which means that they need to learn some things about being an instructor and how an adult as a student (which is what technicians are during a training session, whether they want to admit it or not) responds to or connects with the person at the front of the room.

Among them:

1. Never waste an adult learner’s time. Do your homework in order to ensure that the session moves at a brisk pace and provides a wealth of information in a short length of time. I’ve been in situations where I’ve invested several hours in  preparing a 30-minute presentation.

2. Remember that you’re an instructor here, and that means that your responsibility is to manage the session. If a particular individual is dominating the conversation, do what you need to do in order to minimize that situation.

3. Just because you’re dealing with adults, that doesn’t mean that you avoid positive reinforcement. Remember, just being there in a training session (whether the person appears to be super confident or not) is a stressful situation for the an adult in a learning environment. So, by all means be prepared to praise somebody for getting it right or making a meaningful contribution.

Keeping these three simple points in mind when preparing for an in-house training session will make the the event more pleasant for those attending…and for you.

Learn from yesterday….Live for today….Look forward to tomorrow

Jim

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