The need for quality training programs is greater now than ever because we are in the midst of a recession that does not appear to be relenting any time soon.
Budgets of all sizes are taking (and holding) a deep breath as the financial belt has tightened.
Facilities with in-house cleaning crews are pushing maintenance management personnel to get the same amount of quality cleaning done with less hours and smaller crews.
Customers of BSCs are looking to maintain the level of service they are accustomed to, but within the constraints of a smaller budget.
In this kind of pressure-cooker situation, something needs to give.
Facilities still need to be cleaned and customers still need to be serviced.
The question is: How do you reconcile resources with the budgetary demands created by our current economic state in order to deliver quality results?
One of the best approaches to this situation is to ensure that employees are properly trained to execute their jobs in the most time-efficient and effective ways possible.
A training program provides opportunities for people to share best-practices and other "tricks of the trade" that serve to improve morale and bond workers together.
In short, training programs are an important venue to foster a positive work environment and empower employees to take pride in their performance.
Another valuable by-product of a comprehensive and well-delivered training program is that it sends a very positive message to new and existing employees, as well as your customers.
A strong initiative and dedication to successful training shows that your organization values both employees and customers.
Employees will see the training as an investment in their future, and customers will know that you are continually striving to deliver excellent service with a well-trained staff.
Training program assessment
There are essentially two camps that companies fall into with respect to training programs:
A well-defined and measurable training program for new employees, with a focus on continual training for existing employees.
A loosely-defined program that is not monitored or measured and hasn''t been retooled since the Reagan Administration.
No matter the camp, the first step to take is an assessment of your current training program:
Does it fully-address the core competency-needs to successfully perform the job?
Is the training of new and existing employees a primary focus in the culture of the organization?
Are there clear objectives in the training?
Does the training focus on the most efficient procedures to get the job done?
Is the training delivered by qualified personnel?
Is there initiative to continually seek out new developments in equipment, supplies and procedures, and then implement these?
Are there means to measure the results of the training on an ongoing basis?
Is the training delivered within an active-learning environment that facilitates knowledge retention?
Each of these questions must have a resounding "yes" answer or there are some serious gaps that need to be filled within the program you have in-place.
The biggest hurdle to overcome in the assessment is to be honest with the answers.
It isn''t always easy to be objectively critical in the self-reflective way needed for a true assessment of the program you have been hanging your hat on, but it is an essential step in ultimately designing, implementing and measuring a training program that is truly effective.
Designing (or redesigning) a training program
After the self-assessment is completed, the next step is to design or redesign the training program.
The overarching question here is what objectives should the training program meet?
In other words, what should the trainees be able to do once they have successfully completed the training program?
The answers will be the beacons that guide the design of the training.
With that in mind, it is essential that the answers are well-formulated and come from several perspectives, such as management, the personnel who deliver the training, current front-line employees and any third-party individuals that can be tapped for an objective answer.
These "third-party individuals" might be manufacturer''s reps or JanSan supply-house contacts who are familiar with your company and the services you provide.
The chances are good that they will have a wealth of training-related experiences to draw on and can assist you in assessment and design.
At first, the design/redesign of a training program may seem like an insurmountable task, but the process itself will pay dividends.
The processes of assessment and design will provide a platform for all of those involved to look at the company or department from a fresh perspective and can potentially refocus everyone to the core goals of the organization.
We often lose sight of the "why" behind the "what" we do on a daily basis.
When this happens, the duties we perform tend be approached as monotonous rather than important.
This mindset eventually leads to poor quality, which has all kinds of negative effects.
While designing/redesigning a training program, it is important to consider the ways that people stay motivated, such as learning something new, clearing-up misunderstandings and being empowered to go above and beyond the call of duty.
A successful program will bring together all the different mental and physical aspects of job performance.
Next month''s article will discuss how to implement and measure the results of your training program.
Scott P. Kubec is the master support manager for System4, an innovative provider of commercial cleaning services. System4 is a franchised-based company founded in 2004 that currently operates in 23 cities with over 800 local franchises. For more information visit www.system4usa.com, call (216) 524-6100 or email: email@example.com.