By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
As the field technician role continues to evolve and expectations of field workers continue to rise, providing effective training becomes ever more critical. In a recent study of more than 100 service executives conducted by Service Strategies, 71 percent of respondents indicated that they plan to increase their investment this year on staff training. In fact, increased staff training was the top reported area of investment respondents plan to make this year.
So how are companies successfully training their field technicians? According to the Service Strategies study, respondents reported their preferences in the following order:
- #1: A Combination Of Methods – using a variety of the training methods listed below helps you to address differing learning preferences, and to choose a specific option based on the content being delivered or topic being covered.
- #2: Instructor-Led Training – conducting in-person training remains the top choice for many organizations. This format enables in-depth coverage of the topic, and there’s definite value in the face-to-face nature of instructor-led training. However, for some organizations and in certain situations, it can be difficult to manage live trainings. For instance, for a workforce that is geographically distributed, an alternative method might make more sense.
- #3: Online Self-Paced Training – this method is cost effective, provides a high level of flexibility for your workers, and can help you to keep their core productive time in place. I’ve also spoken with companies that use self-paced training in combination with videos (often posted on a YouTube channel) to add in that personal layer.
- #4: Live Online Training – this instructor-led, online training is usually conducted in a webinar platform. It is more interactive than online self-paced training, and may be an alternative for situations in which in-person training isn’t possible.
As you evaluate training methods, here are some points of consideration:
- Weigh cost and convenience with effectiveness. In-person training can be costly, is time-consuming, and won’t always be possible – but in many scenarios it is the best choice when it comes to effectiveness. Short cuts with training will backfire – you will trade a bigger time investment up front for ongoing issues if you choose a method less effective or appropriate than what’s necessary.
- Be sure to communicate the “why” behind the content you’re training on. Any time a change is made, taking the time to explain to your employees why it’s happening (and specifically, the value it provides to them in their role) makes a major difference in acceptance and adoption.
- Always ask for feedback. Regardless of the training method you choose, make sure your employees have ample opportunity to ask questions about the content being delivered. Also ensure that your employees have a chance to provide feedback on the training method itself, so that you can make changes to better meet their needs.
- Determine ways to provide ongoing support. Think about how you’ll follow up with your workers after they’ve been training on a particular topic, to give them opportunities beyond the initial training to ask questions they’ve thought of or discuss issues that have come up.
- Encourage peer-to-peer engagement. Your workers can benefit greatly from learning from one another. Whether you use a messaging platform, a forum, or some sort of social media platform, think about ways you can facilitate communication among your workforce to enable them to help each other.