The simplest way to maximize your investment in technician training may be to get your technicians to class early.
Causing workers to be late for class wastes precious time, money and human resources.
Regular Tire Business readers may recall that I have been presenting technical training classes nationwide for more than 22 years. I believe this experience qualifies me to comment about the impact of lateness. Techs arriving late to a seminar or at the very last moment is an all-too-common occurrence. Typically, this reflects bigger issues.
The most-common reason for lateness is that the boss forced techs to finish fixing cars before leaving the shop.
Another common but equally lame excuse is that neither the boss nor the techs knew that the class was scheduled for that particular evening.
To be as fair as possible, we're working in an imperfect world. Most bosses simply won't pay techs to attend daytime classes.
What's more, many techs lack the discipline to do self-study of any kind. Consequently, most training occurs on weeknights. That said, techs who arrive late or waltz in at the last moment only make this imperfect situation worse.
First off, being late is simply selfish and rude. It's disrespectful to the other techs, to the seminar sponsor and to the instructor. Lateness wastes time and disrupts the flow of the class. In some instances, class sponsors compromise and allow class to start late because customers who signed up are missing.
Understandably, this may upset those techs who worked hard to arrive early or—at least—on time. Believe me, starting a class with a bunch of techs in a foul mood is counterproductive.
Second, even if the instructor starts the session on time, late arrivals disrupt the class because they're grabbing chow from the food table, asking for a class book, trying to squeeze into an open seat, greeting co-workers, etc. These interruptions waste time in and of themselves. They also upset everyone's focus and concentration.
It's interesting how some bosses question the cost-effectiveness of training. But when they do send workers to classes, they reduce the efficiency of the class by causing their techs to be late.
Third, lateness reflects a basic misunderstanding about learning. You can't maximize the value of any class when you're not present for the entire event and you can't maximize the value of a learning opportunity when you're interrupting that event. Instead, knuckle down, arrive early and be ready the moment the teacher picks up the pointer.
Fourth, lateness often indicates poor planning or a complete lack of planning. If you have any hope of competing in today's auto service marketplace, ongoing training is an essential part of your business plan. If you truly value training, plan for it, budget for it and do so rigorously.
Effectively planning for training means that owners and/or managers take responsibility for identifying what classes are available and when they're scheduled. To me, a boss who fails to identify and monitor class offerings is incompetent. Cultivate and maintain relationships with all training providers. Then create a training calendar. Whenever necessary, update that calendar as quickly as humanly possible.
Next, print up a calendar and be sure every manager, foreman and technician has one. In fact, unveil that calendar at a team meeting. Require techs to plan their own schedules accordingly. The greater the advance notice, the less likely the excuses for participating.
Finally, managers and foremen—knowing the training dates well in advance—must schedule work in the shop accordingly on those days. Make it shop policy to release techs at least two hours earlier than normal. This way, techs have plenty of time to clean up, change clothes and get to the class site early.
Where necessary, schedule heavier on other days of that week. Otherwise, consciously plan to get techs to class without stress, without headaches.