Norb Slowikowski is a productivity consultant who has been working in the construction industry since 1982. He is the author of the recently published book, Hard-Hat Productivity: The 9 Critical Factors for Maximizing Profits.
Use this guide to implement a process that yields lasting results.
Most construction companies rarely make a commitment to ongoing employee traning. Instead, they provide training periodically (such as a training seminar) and expect employees to automatically improve after attending.
But people generally do not improve on their own, and most require ongoing coaching. This means it is essential to implement a training process, especially considering the current economic conditions.
If you avoid investing in people during a crisis, obstacles can become twice as difficult to surmount. Now is the time to offer continuing education so that employees can be more effective and efficient in their jobs.
A training and development process includes many different components. And if you establish this process correctly, it will become a way of life—to the point that obstacles can be seen ahead of time and surmounted with relative ease. To get started, use this blueprint as your guide.
Fill in the blank: The objective of the training experience is to provide _______________.
For example, "to provide employees with the skills they need to achieve optimum productivity and profitability."
The training structure should include the following elements:
- Three-hour blocks of instruction on specific skills to enhance retention
- Input from employees about the skills they need to improve productivity
- The realities of each employee's specific job situation
- An on-the-job application assignment that requires employees to apply the skills to their day-to-day work experiences
Follow-up and regular coaching from managers to ensure employees display competency in applying the skills
The training needs assessment is a tool to analyze and document each employee's training requirements based on his or her present skill level for performing a specific job.
The goal of the assessment is to develop an action plan. Request input from a sampling of participants about their training needs and skill requirements.
4. Baseline Data
Managers should evaluate employees against measurable performance factors and critical cost factors. Obtaining this data is vital to have before training begins.
A. Performance Factors: Identify the employee's key job responsibilities and expected results.
Quantity of Work—Meeting job deadlines and meeting or beating labor budgets
Quality of Work—Proper installation and little or no rework
Leadership—Creating a positive work climate and establishing win/win relationships
Planning and Organizing—Implementing a process for a well-organized project with all key job controls in place
Communication—Establishing effective listening skills, brokering an understanding and encouraging feedback
Customer Relations—Providing quality service and building positive relationships with customers
B. Cost Factors: List any costs employees should be responsible for.
- Managing the Labor Budget—Hours over or under budget each week
- Rework—The cost of correcting sub-standard work including labor, tools, equipment and material
- Safety—Cost of lost time on accidents, injuries and workers' compensation
- Tools and Equipment—Cost of replacing tools due to ineffective usage and costs associated with maintenance, repair, theft and rental equipment
- Waste—Late delivery of materials, delivery of wrong type and amount of materials, crews standing around without the necessary resources to do their job, etc.
5. Performance Evaluations
Employees should continue working as they go through the training process. It is important to track how effective they are in executing their key job responsibilities and controlling the job cost factors as they progress through the training process. If no improvement is seen, managers should discuss this with employees.
6. Ongoing Coaching
Managers should coach employees until they can effectively apply the skills.
Coaching is a two-way communication process. It is a supportive approach that should instruct and guide employees to help them reach their full potential.
The coach should use a customized checklist to evaluate employees and identify areas in which they need help. Afterward, the checklist can be used to verify competency.
7. Monetary Value
As data is collected during the training process, it should be converted to monetary value and compared against the baseline data. Find out if any of the following cost factors improved: labor budget management, quality/rework, safety, equipment use and waste.
Also, determine each employee's effectiveness in executing his or her key job responsibilities, meeting skill requirements and achieving desired results. Then, place a monetary value on this.
8. Training Costs
Time away from work during the training process must be converted to dollars spent for all participants. The costs include instructor fees, costs for seminar materials and training aids and travel expenses.
9. Return on Investment
The ROI is calculated by comparing the results of cost control factors (dollars saved) against the training costs. Share these results with employees who were part of the training process.
Once the process is completed, conduct a follow-up to determine if continuous training should occur in specific areas. Regardless of the results, ongoing reinforcement training must occur to emphasize the importance of continuous improvement.
Managers should provide training participants with an on-the-job application assignment that allows them to apply the learned skills.
Questions to Ask
Ask yourself these questions before embarking in the training and development process. And continue using these questions to be sure employees keep progressing:
- Do they work efficiently?
- Do they have the technical, management and leadership skills to grow in their jobs and achieve desired results?
- Can employees grow in their present position and take advantage of promotional opportunities?
- Do they work in a positive climate to help them reach peak performance?
Construction Business Owner, September 2011