People seldom remember a long training lecture or presentation, but they might remember a training session that added in some fun elements or interaction. During a seminar at New England Grows, Marty Grunder, president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Company, explained why contractors should incorporate fun into their training.
“Most of the training in your company should not be done in a classroom setting,” Grunder said. “You put a guy who runs a crew in a classroom for eight hours, and I’m sure he won’t be happy.”
Instead, Grunder said to make training enjoyable and interactive. He shared a story of how a backpack leaf blower training session got a little more exciting when the trainer demonstrated by blowing beach volleyballs. He gave another story of how a crew at Grunder Landscaping took a morning off to train – during the training, the trainer took the crew to a Panera for breakfast and then they walked right outside to a nearby shopping plaza where the trainer pointed out flaws in the landscape design.
“You can make even safety training fun, so shake it up,” he said.
Grunder offered the following suggestions for contractors looking to build or revamp their training programs:
- Provide orientation for new hires. This might be something such as providing new hires with a company overview on their first day.
- Use “see one, do one, teach one” training. This means a new hire should see something done once, then the new hire should do it and finally, the new hire should be able to “teach” or explain this lesson back to the trainer.
- Invite equipment manufacturers to train employees on machinery when possible. Grunder said this offers additional expertise on equipment used on the job. It’s also engaging and informative, giving employees an opportunity to ask questions on how to use the equipment properly.
- Plan training with a calendar. He advised scheduling some formal training to make sure it happens regularly to keep employees learning and improving.
- Cross-train where possible. If one crew member gets sick or goes on vacation, can someone else do his job? Emergencies happen, so cross-training employees gives businesses backup when needed.
- Encourage crew members teach other crew members. One way to do this is to encourage senior crew members to teach newer crew members when driving to jobs, offering advice on the ride.
Grunder also discouraged contractors from hiring outside companies to perform their training. “Do the training yourself,” he said. “And know that training is an investment, not an expense. We all need to look at it that way.”