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Revamping Training to Keep Pace With Facilities


Institutional and commercial facilities are in a constant state of flux. They expand, age, and take in all kinds of additional technology, people and activities. In response, maintenance and engineering managers need to roll with the changes.

No situation is more challenging for managers than ensuring their staffs — who generally come from diverse backgrounds and bring an array of skills and experiences — have the needed resources to handle the changes in their facilities.

Thomas Nettle Sr., a senior operations manager with Duke Realty in Alexandria, Va., understands the challenge all too well. Several years ago, his department, which is responsible for the maintenance and operations of 49 medical, commercial office and industrial facilities with a total of 10.1 million square feet, faced a daunting training challenge.

"The problem was to develop a system for providing training to a diversified technical staff at all technician levels," Nettle says. He and his team developed a new training program by re-evaluating staff skills and education, revamping job descriptions, reviewing current training offerings, and structuring new offerings that incorporated vendor and online options.

The broad-based restructuring of a central component of any department’s operations is likely to have far-reaching results. For Duke Realty, those results were positive.

"The outcome was meeting our goal of developing an operational system that sufficiently trains and develops the staff to meet the Duke goals of complete customer satisfaction in alignment with our vision and mission statement," Nettle says. "A secondary benefit was a more unified and focused team with a clearer vision on how to achieve their goals."

More specifically, the restructured program brought the desired benefits to the department's front-line technicians.

"The skill level of the techs has increased at all tech levels, which created both a higher quality in work production and enabled us to increase the technical level of the work assigned and managed by lower level techs,” Nettle says, adding that productivity also increased. "We had lower electrical bills due to increased knowledge of system operation and lease standards, allowing for a more optimal operation."

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