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As with any undertaking for maintenance and engineering departments, the financing needed to support the expanded training program was a central issue for Nettle and his department.
"One of the challenges was to fund all of the necessary trainings to allow for all of the technicians to have an equal opportunity at a quality educational experience that would ensure their development and fulfill their educational needs and requirements," he says. The department used a number of different tactics to achieve this goal, from locating online courses that often were less expensive than classroom offerings to partnering with vendors to produce video training.
Once the department rolled out the revamped program, the response was heartening.
"The reaction was overwhelmingly positive," he says, adding that technicians "believed the company had a vested interest in them and their personal progression. It helped create an atmosphere where being open about mistakes and pointing out issues became the norm — no fear of repercussions for being truthful. A strong desire to increase personal knowledge, share ideas, and a team approach of helping and assisting whenever needed was developed."
As with any major undertaking, the department has adapted the training program to meet the ever-changing nature of facilities and the evolving needs of technicians.
"We give refresher courses on the core items, but the group as a whole has grown, and more advanced trainings and methods are being introduced," Nettle says. "The focus this year is on internal trainings specific to the properties. More internal instruction is given by staff and outside vendors being brought in for training. So the biggest change would be less external training this year and more specified internal training."
Three years after starting the process of revamping training for technicians, Nettle says the process has provided valuable lessons that managers facing similar challenges can incorporate into their planning:
• You do not know what your staff knowledge level truly is until you vet it.
• You cannot fairly or sensibly achieve your goals, company requests and requirements if your staff does not understand what is expected of them and unless you know of what they are capable of.
• You learn what staff changes you have to make, and you can evaluate how best to place your staff.
• You get a clear picture of what your staffing needs are.
• You learn the true value of each staff member.
• Your team becomes stronger and more reliable.
For more information on past winners of FMD Achievement Awards, visit here.
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