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Learning from our training courses

I have been facilitating courses for many years but only in the last 6 months have I been doing it for my own business. Training close to 150 people in that period.

I wanted to sit down and reflect on what I have learnt from my delegates over the past half year. I have run courses from High Pressure Water Jetting, and CCTV surveying to Customer Service and Management Systems. All courses have had different levels and abilities and a wide spectrum of personalities and skills.

One thing that is absolutely clear to me is that plumbing and drainage engineers and office staff really do enjoy training! They are very vocal about the fact that they don't feel they have access to enough good quality content and providers.

If you sit and talk to the 'sewer men' and their colleagues in the office and management teams they will tell you that they feel the drainage industry needs to do a lot more to support them to be better. Everyone tends to agree that the quality of training is improving, and there are a number of decent accredited courses but there is still improvements to be made.

Safety First

I have been pleased with the level of safety awareness out there. There is now without doubt a better understanding and willingness to work more safely. I have no doubt that culture is starting to change with the change in generation. Millennials are far more likely to talk openly about safety and wellbeing in the workplace and far more likely to demand better of their colleagues too. I have seen this first hand.

I had, let us say, an 'old school' engineer on one of my courses who was very happy to brag openly about his water jetting injury to the group. It was interesting to see the dynamic, I did not have to say anything, the group (a number being much younger) were happy to challenge his 'badge of honour' attitude to safety and question why he felt so proud of something that should never have happened. Hearing it from his peers was so much more powerful than coming from the course leader and being able to facilitate that conversation felt much more valuable learning than any text book or code of practice could ever provide.

Real examples, from real life. These are the things that people want to hear. Things that they can relate to. I often share many of my stories that are the most powerful. Real experience, some with some sad outcomes. These can hammer home the important message that its not actually about the person on site, it's about the families at home. We owe it to them to go home safely every day.

The more people know about potential consequences they might just think twice next time, and even step in when someone else is doing something unsafe. It is getting there but we still have much work to do.

The general feeling is that we need to rid the industry of poor contractors. Of course all the people will generally say that as they are the ones on the course! The poor ones don't do training! Drainsafe is without a doubt going to be a game changer in this area.

Knowledge is power

There is a huge amount of knowledge out there. I calculated one group of having over 215 years of experience between them in the room - super impressive. These guys love sharing their knowledge and stories with others, and often don't get the time or the right platform to do this. I find that on a lot of my training courses the delegates are itching to interact so I allow lots of time to do just that. To tell the stories and share experience with the rest of the room so that they go away having been been listened to and have added value to the course themselves. We all like being listened to right?

On some of the courses it has literally been the first time in which some colleagues have met each other or a year or more before they have seen their work peers in a face to face environment. My challenge to employers out there - do more of this, get them together more often and use it to build the teams confidence, great learning time is invaluable to your business.

Everyone has something to give. Like in a football team the youth players look to the experienced players for guidance on how to conduct themselves not just how to play on the pitch. Attitude is everything and to see great examples from others in the right environment can only be a positive thing. If you want help as employers to facilitate this - give DRBi a call or contact us via the website.

The field/office divide

I hear it all the time. 'Well we do it, but they don't', 'Why don't the office/engineers do this course as well'?

One of the biggest challenges as an operations manager or field team member (remember I have been both) is to see the issues with the other hat on. Once there is a better understanding it builds better working relationships. We all have a problems and issues in the chain, no matter what level, and they are all equally important. Understanding how to work better as a team and move 'blame to aim' is vitally important.

On many of my courses that I have run for both field and office staff together I have found they go away with much more empathy for their colleagues.

They build a better working relationship by understanding others perspectives and their own communication styles. This translates into less problems and better outcomes for customers.

Ask us about our Customer Service Excellence Course which is not just about service but about working better together as a team.

Enjoyment/fun factor

Many of my delegates comment on 'fun', 'he was a nice guy' etc in their feedback. Now of course I am a nice guy but thats not the point! I have learnt that no-one learns anything if they are not enjoying themselves and engaged with the content. Do you remember the boring teachers at school? What was it you didn't like about them? - Lots of text, lots of boring lectures, lots of writing and theory. No practical and no doing.

Well we all learn in different ways, visual, audio, kinaesthetic etc, and all this is important for the trainer to incorporate into the course. But the one people always forget is having fun with it. If the delegates go away with a couple of new skills then the course has been worth it. Yes they need to pick up the basics, the tests take care of that but is there a nugget that you want them to go away with, they are most likely going to remember that if they enjoyed the course. So fun is important, a laid back environment but with the right balance of seriousness and compliance when needed.

They want more!

They all tell me they want access to more quality training. Well that is a great problem to have. Lots of people wanting to get better at what they do. Of course there are challenges. Time being the main one. How can employers spare downtime? It is not the cost of training but the lost revenue when employees are not working.

There are other ways of course, I have done lots of courses at the weekends, this helps to not impact other work and can be combined with a social activity if the employer wants to.

There is also mobile learning. Millennials demand better ways and technology plays a big part in that. A lot of people learn things from 5 minute YouTube videos these days - I know my daughter does! - DRBi has lots of innovative ways of putting the learning into the hands of the people. - Just ask.

Final thoughts

If you don't keep listening you will never improve. Feedback is so important. Listen to your employees. Some of the companies I work with have great systems to facilitate this but there is no substitute for meeting in person. We are social animals and require interaction. You want good interactions with your customers, you have to have great interactions with your teams. Training is just a small part of it, but an essential part. It helps to build the team, build confidence and improve what you do as a business. Half the battle is having people engaged with it, I have seen that in the delegates I have trained we don't really have a problem with that, our challenge is to do more of it!


"Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.”



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