As seen in the May 2007 edition of HVACR Business magazine.

How co-workers, a calendar, communications, and critiques contribute to a structured, meaningful training plan. Part three of a three-part series

In the first two parts of this series (see, I covered five steps of a nine-step process that I use to establish a structured, meaningful training program; they include:

1. Appoint a company training director.
2. Determine how to compensate the attendees.
3. Create a training room.
4. Establish the frequency, dates, and times of the training.
5. Define the topics to be presented.

In this, the third and last article in this series — which I’ve previously suggested you should include in a company training file— I present the final four steps:

Step 6. Determine the presenters. I have learned that it is best to have nearly all of our training presented by co-workers. You will be surprised to discover that they can do a good job if you give them the chance, along with coaching, support, and encouragement. When one of your service technicians or installers is scheduled to give a presentation on a certain topic, he or she will study and make certain they have the information to present. By preparing for the assigned topic, the presenter will become more knowledgeable and skilled. The presenters gradually learn how to speak and train, which also helps improve their self-esteem. At times it is appropriate to have a manufacturer or distributor representative give the presentation. However, training by company co-workers will assure consistency with the company’s culture and its objectives. Plus, co workers tend to readily accept training from their peers.

Step 7. Develop the first company training calendar. We always develop and issue a training calendar every three months, two weeks before the start of the new quarter. It is distributed to the co-workers and displayed in several areas of the facility. (See example below.)

You’ll note in the example that we trained a total of nine weeks out of 13 during the three-month period, with no training the weeks of Independence Day and Labor Day. All of the training was presented to the service technicians and maintenance technicians. The installers attended every session except one. The office-support co-workers were in attendance when I trained on service agreements and communications. The training on service agreements and programmable thermostats was not confined to sales. It included technical training on service agreements (the procedures of a quality precision tune-up and professional cleaning) and programmable thermostats (how to install and test the operation), as well as how to sell the two products.

Step 8. Announce the training program to the company. When you are ready to have the very first training session, I suggest that you have a meeting with the co-workers to explain the intention of the training and distribute the first training calendar. Emphasize the importance of the training, including how it will benefit the customers and how it will benefit them. Ask for their co-operation and participation in the program. Remember, you will be setting expectations as you carefully explain the program. It is vital that you follow through and not let the program gradually disappear.

Step 9. Begin critiquing and measuring the effectiveness of the program. If your training included topics directed toward correcting certain callback problems, you should continue monitoring the callbacks in order to measure the effectiveness of the training. You also should begin to see an improvement in the productivity of the co-workers. With the training calendar described above, for example, sales of service agreements and programmable thermostats should improve. Also, you should continue discussing the training program with your co-workers to get their feedback.

Remember, training is management’s greatest responsibility!


Training Calendar
July 1 through Sept. 30, 2007
All sessions scheduled on Tuesdays, 7 a.m. until 8:15 a.m.
Date Topic Presenter Attendees
7/10 Air balancing Kevin T Svc and maint. techs, installers
7/17 Low voltage Bill S Svc. and maint. techs, installers
7/31 Refrig. metering devices Ralph A Svc. and maint. techs, installers
8/7 Service agreements Ron S Svc. and maint. techs, office support
8/14 Cond. drains Sam R Svc. and maint. techs, installers
8/28 Refrig. charging Ralph A Svc. and maint. techs, installers
9/11 Welding Jose R Svc. and maint. techs, installers
9/18 Communications Ron S Svc. and maint. techs, installers, office support
9/25 Programmable thermostats Emilio G Svc. and maint. techs, installers

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