Building a Training Program From the Ground Up
The training program was implemented within the first six months of Nettle's arrival in 2011, and the technicians themselves were deeply involved in the process.
"They gave their input on the things they felt they needed more training on," Nettle says. "They assisted with data collection and the review of preventive maintenance (PM) and repair history comparisons to determine what equipment needs required improvement, thus creating trainings that addressed enhancement PM and repair techniques in those areas of concern."
The department started the process of assessing need by reviewing the building blocks of training — job descriptions that outline required skills for technicians.
"The first phase of training was to take the job descriptions of each tech level and list all of the areas of knowledge that the techs should have," Nettle says, referring to plumbing, electrical, HVAC, BAS, controls, engineer licenses, CFC certification, pumps, motors, and specialized skills.
The department also evaluated the staff's individual educational achievements, training options inside and outside company, and the continuity of procedures for operation throughout the company's Washington, D.C., region.
Next, "each tech was listed in an educational matrix, which showed their training under each category," Nettle says. "They were given a period of time to fulfill their training requirements within categories that they were deficient in and provided training options to choose from in order to do so. The goal was to get the staff trained to the level of their job descriptions while also implementing changes periodically to get the operational duties enhanced to improve the program as a whole."
Another key step in the program was assessing the educational needs of technicians, namely, "how to conduct proper building tours, making sure PM guides were correct and effective for the given equipment or item, how to properly create bid scopes and implement them, understanding compliance and regulator requirements, understanding budgets, (and) understanding leases." The training also needed to adhere to the company's requirements under its Complete Customer Satisfaction program.
The department then reissued job descriptions — in each technician's native language — with areas highlighted that required further training. To meet the identified needs, the department also reviewed its training offerings, with an eye on providing effective classroom, hands-on and online training.