Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Training Talent

November 10, 2011

In many discussions with maintenance professionals, the topic of training usually comes up.

There are a number of managers who believe that the training process should begin and end with on-the-job training.

The following paragraphs may lend another side to the discussions.

Learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge or skill, or knowledge or skill gained through education.

Knowledge or skill-based training gained before attempting something is usually better for the outcome of the procedure or task at hand.

Take learning to print or write as a child as an example.

Before the mechanics of writing could be learned, a child needed to understand the basics, like how to properly hold a pencil so small motor group muscles in the hands and fingers could perform the tasks necessary for the pencil to make the marks on the page.

This early skill set development took place in a classroom, not out in the real world with students writing term papers for class.

The classroom learning before the tasking is the basic starting point of all knowledge-based learning that we have been accustomed to for many years.

The health care industry, law enforcement and many other technical fields use the classroom technique for training before sending trainees out into the world to use the skills they were taught.

Imagine a physician with no classroom training, only training on the job.

As a patient, I would not be comfortable with doctors who followed that particular training regimen.

The classroom is also a comfortable environment to learn and develop the confidence necessary to understand the reasons we approach the procedures a certain way.

I think this is where the classroom training approach is far superior to the on-the-job approach.

Yes, But Why?

Technicians are always wondering and asking, "Why?"

Why do we have to remove dry, particulate soils before using the damp or wet mopping procedures; why do we have to perform floor scrubbing procedures before burnishing the floor finish; why is it not a good idea to shake the dust mop at the end of the halls?

They thirst for the knowledge of not only how to accomplish the tasks, but also why they need to follow a certain order.

The classroom gives the student the forum to ask these questions and the time to understand and appreciate the answers while working out the programs in their heads.

We can show the long-term effects of scheduling, tasking and soil assessments to help the trainees have the understanding to help in the building of maintenance programs.

And, when custodians have a vested interest in the programs they themselves helped develop, they will qualify the outcomes everyone is searching for.

Many trainers believe the proper way to approach skill-based training is a two-pronged approach with classroom training for the basic skills and some on-the-job training for the more detailed programs.

When these two training procedures are combined, it creates a powerful training component system incorporating several learning models.

Different people learn differently: Some are visual learners and can learn by seeing something happening and replicate the actions or procedures; others can hear a lecture and remember or perform simple to complex tasks after receiving the information.

Another group can listen, watch and take notes in their own words to place concepts in their minds in the order that makes sense to them.

The classroom training program can be used alone, but is better in conjunction with an on-the-job training program to better learn the skills.

Alone, on-the-job training is usually not enough; however, a combination of classroom and on-the-job training can be a powerful training program.


Dane Gregory is the commercial sales manager for Bridgewater Corporation, which owns Interlink Supply. He works with commercial cleaners to help them build their businesses by adding services without a lot of additional cost. He also helps them with technical aspects of cleaning carpet, tile and grout and stone surfaces. Gregory instructs classes for each floor surface as well as the Commercial Cleaning Initiative, which covers all these floor surfaces. He may be reached at Dane.Gregory@Charter.net.