The training box is never ticked, says Ashley Thacker, general manager at Ranger Lifting.
Training is too often snarled at but at Ranger it’s one of our favourite words.
We’re honoured to host Barrie Mordue, director at Tensology, this week. The steel wire rope specialist has travelled from the UK to deliver a variety of training to staff about the theory behind crane ropes. His content will be largely based on ISO 4309:2017(en) Cranes — Wire ropes — Care and maintenance, inspection and discard. I know that office and workshop staff have enjoyed the sessions so far and it’s set to be a hugely productive week.
I’ll write in more detail about Barrie’s content next month, but his visit serves as a timely reminder of the importance of ongoing training, regardless of how well educated or experienced your staff might be.
An investment, not a cost
Developing and growing a workforce that constantly strives for individual and collective improvement is essential to continued progression and bottom-line growth. Importantly, the training box is never ticked. By that I mean it’s an ongoing process. Even the most well trained, longest serving employee must refresh that knowledge on a periodic basis and acquire new skills.
A successful training culture must flow through every vein of a company. Not to blow my own trumpet but I recently completed an Executive Masters in Business Administration through the University of Wollongong. Inevitably, what I’ve learned will serve me well but, moreover, it’s important to practice what you preach. We challenge every member of the Ranger family to improve every day, and that’s from the top down. How can we expect people in the workshop or at the coalface of the industry to embrace learning opportunities and equip themselves with qualifications if management consider themselves above such personal development?
Fill knowledge gaps
Training must be given priority in the diary and fixed at regular intervals, yet flexibility is important. A regimented programme that stretches months or years ahead might not suit staff changes or evolution in industry standards and product development. There’s little to gain in running a Part 2 course for participants who haven’t taken Part 1, on a hoist that’s now obsolete. That’s training for training’s sake; it’s box ticking. Instead, we look for knowledge gaps and encourage staff to suggest areas where they feel additional training might be useful, with safety and productivity being the key criteria.
I’m always reluctant to chart a long-term path for an individual. Someone might join the company in one role but start to develop or show an interest in a different area to what either party might have envisaged at the outset. Training should be tailored for an individual not a job title. People learn at different speeds and a penchant for something might not emerge until the mid-point of a professional’s career—or even later. Businesses should be happy to reimburse staff for higher education courses and encourage them to explore paths away from their core job functions.
I’ve commentated extensively about the value we place on Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) training content, to the extent that we’re prepared to send staff all over the world for related training, whether it is to LEEA’s headquarters in Huntingdon, UK or elsewhere. I advise peers and fellow business leaders not to get too blinkered in terms of training providers, however. Bespoke content in niche industries or product areas is an effective way of building on a sector’s core training material.
Inch wide, mile deep
We always prefer to work with specialists in their fields. Barrie is a wire rope guy, for instance. When we’re looking to educate staff on height safety or material handing, we find thought leaders in those respective areas. Safety and training is big business and there’s a tendency for some providers to become too broad. I’d rather digest information from someone who’s worked in an area his or her whole career than a retired forklift truck driver that has suddenly diversified into mobile crane inspection.
Remember, things to look for in businesses that take training seriously include monthly toolbox talks; regular visits from suppliers to update staff on product development; evidence of certificates with current dates and the logos of accredited, renowned training providers; an engaged workforce; and excellent staff retention.
How does your place of work measure up?