One of our greatest challenges as an industry is the development of our people. The issue is directly tied to employee morale, retention, and even our end-product. As such, the development of training programs that allow individuals to discover their skills and interests is crucial to creating a successful environment within a company. Educational programs demonstrate the commitment you are making to your team and ensure that your organization is staffed with people who fit well into your company's culture and goals, both today and tomorrow. And, when education is successfully matched to a person's knowledge, skill, and attitude, leadership skills result.
Commit to your team
At Structural Group, we are committed to fostering the growth of our team members. A key element of our mission statement is “Developing Our People.” This is a commitment that we take seriously, and we have found that training is a way to ensure that we meet this goal. We have several categories for training, including solution engineering, risk management, claims management, sales and estimating, safety, field procedures, and project management. Each program has been developed in response to the needs of our team members. Structural Group offers many of these programs in both Spanish and English. Each year, we hold about 280 hours of training events.
Our programs are offered through a variety of formats. In 1998, Structural Group introduced the Web-based Comprehensus Knowledge Management System to capture, archive, and distribute the company's knowledge base. Comprehensus includes thousands of video segments of field procedures and solutions, management practices, project overviews and costs, and industry-specific information. The system is cost-effective in providing members of our training program information from experienced industry veterans. Through the Comprehensus system, we have archived 250 weekly “Toolbox Talks.” They are offered in both English and Spanish, and the technology allows our people 24/7 access to this series no matter where they are.
Beyond Comprehensus, we also offer day-long training sessions at our corporate headquarters or branch locations. Team members from across the country can attend sessions in leadership, project management, specific craft skills, sales, safety, CPR, engineering claims management, and other areas. The positive energy generated is contagious.
“When people are learning, they feel good about themselves and their role in the company,” said Terry Daniel, training director at Structural Group. “Our training programs help demonstrate our commitment to our people and provide opportunities to exhibit their leadership skills.”
Understanding the employee's triangle
One core element of our training program is that each person and each team has a triangle. According to Daniel, the three equal sides represent knowledge, skill, and attitude.
“When we evaluate the performance of a team, we examine all three sides,” said Daniel. “For example, if the skill side is not even with the knowledge and attitude sides, we work with the teams and individual employees to develop training programs that increase the skill side of the triangle. This same principle works for attitude and knowledge.”
First used by Jim Emmons, Structural Group's safety director, the triangle proved so effective in safety training that it was quickly integrated into other aspects of training and pre-project planning. During project planning, for example, the triangle ensures that the right person is matched to the right task. Leadership training is a part of all training programs as well. It's important to note that our goal is not merely good managers, but also good leaders. Each person has leadership skills to be fostered and promoted. Our focus as a company is to provide our team with the skills, knowledge, and attitude they need to do their job and grow. As such, all training efforts support the triangle and the development of new opportunities for our people.
Ongoing learning effort
Although specific topics are covered throughout the year, training also occurs daily at every Structural Group jobsite. All of our team members play a role in both the leadership and development of new training programs. One example of training that occurs daily is the Jobsite Safety Analysis (JSA). The JSA recognizes the potential hazards for a task, and the crew develops solutions in response to these hazards to ensure there are no injuries at the site. For example, if a crew is sand-blasting in a tight area that does not allow for air movement, they assess the situation and realize that the hazard for this task is the amount of dust in a confined space. They determine that they will need to remove the dust from the area to provide a safe work environment. By taking the time to complete the Jobsite Safety Analysis at the beginning of a task, the chances for injury are dramatically lessened, and all team members are aware of the hazards.
Daniel cites a recent JSA example to highlight the effectiveness of training programs in the creation of leaders. The JSA is a daily requirement. While routine may lead to complacency for some, on a recent project in which crews were chipping concrete for weeks, the training team decided to have a crew member instead of a foreman lead the JSA. The program changed dramatically, and the team member had the opportunity to highlight his leadership abilities. This served to remind the entire team of the importance of the JSAs, and afforded a unique leadership experience.