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Management And Training

The Training Contradiction

September 19, 2010
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There seems to be three popular and nearly universal beliefs about training, which note that it is best when done in a classroom, done with a group and when all the available information is presented.

If the real goal of training for effective building services is to maintain and improve the condition of the building, just how effective is traditional training?

We put this question to the test and conducted in-person and online surveys about the efficacy of training in the cleaning industry.

What we found was somewhat of a contradiction with the popular training practices.

Classroom Training Is Best

There is a nearly ironclad belief in the value of classroom training.

Talk to manufacturers, distributors, consultants and just about any kind of trainer and everyone agrees that getting attendees together at a centralized location is key to a successful training event.

The training event is most often centered in a classroom, conference room, auditorium or other group-attending space.

So, just how effective is this training strategy?

We interviewed and surveyed a cross-section of manufacturers, distributors, trainers and contractor end-users about the effectiveness of classroom training versus on-site field training.

We asked which location of training would result in the most retention of the material presented.

Eighty-three percent of those who participated in the study said the training on-site, in the field, was actually more effective for retention of the subject matter than training in the classroom because instruction takes place in the real work environment of the trainee.

We followed up to ask participants why they continue to do classroom training in view of their belief that field training was more effective.

The answer was that for efficiency and cost effectiveness reasons, training in a classroom is a better approach.

Get As Large A Group As Possible

Our conversations with trainers noted a universal commitment to gather as many attendees as possible for each training event.

We asked: "Which training leads to the greatest skills improvement by the trainee, group training or individual training?"

Seventy-six percent of those who participated in the study said that individual training was actually more effective for retention of the subject matter than training in a group because more time and support can be given to the individual attendee in dealing with the learning style and issues faced by that trainee.

We followed up to ask participants why they continue to do group training in view of their statement that individual training was more effective.

The answer, again, was that for efficiency and cost effectiveness reasons, training in a group setting was a more practical approach.

Present All The Material Available

Trainers tended to develop and make available training materials specifically centered on the "how to" information regarding the use of a particular product or piece of equipment.

The information available is all-inclusive and designed to impart all the procedures needed to use the product or equipment.

We asked which type of information was the most retained and powerful for impacting the condition of the building, repeating all the information available or providing only the information needed to fix the problem.

Eighty-five percent of those surveyed said the problem-focused information most greatly impacted the condition of the building because it gives the individual a solution in dealing with the pressure brought by a complaint or problems imposed on the trainee.

We again followed up to ask participants why they continue to do full information training in view of their notion that problem-focused training was more effective.

The answer, again, was that for efficiency and cost effectiveness reasons, comprehensive information disclosure was a better approach.

Again, this seems to be saying that saving time, expense or convenience is the big reason training is comprehensive.

Our study, which surveyed manufacturers, distributors, trainers, contractors and end-users suggests a different conclusion to the traditional training assumption.

Given that the real goal of training is to maintain and improve the condition of the building, we might challenge the effectiveness of the traditional training system.

We conclude that the most effective training works with an individual using customized training that is problem-focused, best practice information that is cost and resource efficient within the framework of continuous process improvement.


Vincent F. Elliott is the founder, president and CEO of Elliott Affiliates, Ltd. of Hunt Valley, MD, www.ealtd.com. He is widely recognized as the leading authority in the design and utilization of best practice performance-driven techniques for janitorial outsourcing and ongoing management.

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