5 Steps to Training Your Workforce

A lot of people don’t realize how vital training is for the labor and trade workforce in Construction (and OSHA does not count. If you want to read my thoughts regarding OSHA training vs actual training read here).

Or, more likely, you know how important it is, but you are busy building buildings.

But now you have CMC Workforce.

CMC Workforce teaches men and women how to build buildings.

These are the phases of development you should know about before you head down this road.

Phase 1

Deciding to decide:

You have an issue to solve within your organization: you’re not sure how to solve it; but it’s become intolerable for you.

You have a shortage of skilled, knowledgeable, trustworthy and professional construction workers.

The firms been leaking money: you see profits flowing out of the organization and you aren’t sure how to move forward. It’s been an ongoing issue, nagging at you and your team.

But like an annoying mosquito, you wave it off.

Although now, because you’ve been bitten more then you find acceptable; you have decided to deal with it.

You’ve decided to decide.

Right now you only have a few key questions to answer. I would suggest keeping it brief and pointed:

  • How will we handle this?

  • What resources will be allocated?

  • What is your time tolerance?

  • What are your basic expectations?

Answering these questions will create a loose framework that will start to funnel information for you. These parameters will move it from an annoyance that you keep pushing aside because you can’t manage another “thing”, to a loose developing initiative with a few actionable steps that you can use to move forward.

Phase 2

Planning:

Once you have decided to move forward the planning period begins.

In construction we have no shortage of meetings; weekly project meetings, staff meetings, client meetings and the dreaded Emergency Project Meeting when everything’s going sideways on a project. We are so used to having meetings, taking notes, and doing nothing. Our meetings loose impact. This is not what you want.

Keep in mind that Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

If you plan for something to take a year, it will. If you expect the same task to take a week, it will.

For the planning phase, I would suggest to limit the engagement to a two weeks time frame.

Two meetings each week to come up with a LOOSE plan. The plan will be modified as you move forward.

Create a launch date.

At the above mentioned meeting create an end date that everyone can live with.

This can be your program launch date or initiation date. This is the date you want your first class to start.

It keeps everyone moving along at a steady clip. Even if you have to adjust for it, having this date will help your team move forward appropriately and not drag the planning phase out.

There are a variety of perspectives, models and approaches used in strategic planning. The way that a plan is developed depends on the nature of the organization's leadership, culture of the organization, complexity of the organization's environment, the size of the organization, expertise of planners, etc.

For all intents and purposes we are moving forward with the Issue Based Planning model.

For more in Goal Based Planning and Issue Based Planning I would suggest reading Carter McNamara's breakdown here.

Use the following to start the ball rolling:

Issue: Lack of skilled labor

Strategy: There are a few we can look at. For each, we’ve listed what we see as the Pros and Cons and what success for that choice may look like.

  • Strategy 1: Ignore the issue OR Load your sites with unskilled workers

  • Pro:

  • Your mental resources can be used to put out the fires that your workforce is causing.

  • You meet city/state requirements for jobsite inclusion as needed

  • Low cost labor.

  • Your team looks incredibly busy.

  • Con:

  • Inability to hit deadlines: schedule is blown.

  • Over budget.

  • The fires the workforce is causing.

  • Improper installation, QA/QC continues to be an issue.

  • Project timelines are extending, straining the companies limited skilled employees.

  • Lawsuites: from both employees and ownership.

  • Overwhelmed and exhausted staff.

  • Extensive Punch lists.

  • Skyrocketing Consultancy fees.

  • Success:

  • You completed the project.

  • There were no onsite accidents, but you know it’s more of a “when”, not “if”, but it didn’t happened on this jobsite.

  • You manage to keep your client, everyone’s in the same boat. Where could they possibly go?

  • The QC/QA didn’t destroy your margin.

  • Strategy 2: Internal Training Programs

  • Pro:

  • The firm controls:

  • What they get trained

  • When they get trained

  • Who is doing the training

  • Who gets training

  • Completely self directed and focused on individual firms existing SOP’s (standard operating procedures).

  • Vet the existing Credentialed Curriculum.

  • Skilled, trained, professional workforce that you can promote from within.

  • Fewer onsite issues.

  • Safety violations are reduced.

  • QA/QC issues lessen.

  • Professional standards rise.

  • Con:

  • Cost allocated with running the classes.

  • Location of training.

  • Coordination.

  • Time allocation for programming, vetting curriculum.

  • Tracking results (ROI).

  • Success:

  • The investment of time, money, staff resources is acceptable to ownership for new employees.

  • You build a skilled, trained workforce as a result projects are coming in on or under budget, are built better and clients are happy.

  • Risk exposure lessens; less accidents, lawsuits and problems onsite.

  • Strategy 3: External Training Programs

  • Pro:

  • Another firm takes the burden of:

  • Tracking results (ROI).

  • Time allocation for programming, vetting curriculum.

  • Coordination.

  • Location of training.

  • Cost allocated with running the classes.

  • Insures educators meet a standard.

  • Vet the existing Credentialed Curriculum.

  • You decide when your existing or new staff get trained.

  • You receive a skilled, trained, professional workforce that you can promote from within.

  • Fewer onsite issues.

  • Safety violations are reduced.

  • QA/QC issues lessen.

  • Professional standards rise.

  • Con:

  • Control

  • Who is doing the training

  • Success:

  • The investment of time, money, staff resources is acceptable to ownership for new employees.

  • You build a skilled, trained workforce as a result projects are coming in on or under budget, are built better and clients are happy.

  • Risk exposure lessens; less accidents, lawsuits and problems onsite.

If you are in New York City, you have an additional option.

  • Strategy 4: CMC Workforce

  • Pro:

  • CMC takes the burden of:

  • Tracking results and data analysis

  • Time allocation for programming, vetting curriculum

  • Coordination

  • Location of training

  • Cost allocated with running the classes

  • Insures educators meet a standard

  • Vet the existing Credentialed Curriculum

  • You have input:

  • Who gets training

  • Who is doing the training

  • When they get trained

  • What they get trained

  • Completely self directed and focused on individual firms existing SOP’s (standard operating procedures): certain training classes can be standardized towards a specific firms requirements.

  • You receive a skilled, trained, professional workforce that you can promote from within

  • Fewer onsite issues

  • Safety violations are reduced

  • QA/QC issues lessen

  • Professional standards rise

  • Representation in either the BoD or Committee to ensure your firm's needs are embedded into the programming

  • Con:

  • Time allocation for one staff member to join the board or committee, if representation is important to you.

  • It’s not free.

  • Success:

  • Risk exposure lessens; less accidents, lawsuits and problems onsite

  • Employee turnover drops, reducing rehiring and retraining costs (there are many many studies showing employee retention, job performance, company profitability and stability is tied to employee training and development).

  • You hire from within your organization. Instead of spending resources outside of your organization when you need a new PM, APM or Super, you start moving people up internally, which raises moral, job performance and retention (more about retention next week).

  • You build a skilled, trained workforce, as a result projects are coming in on or under budget, are built better and clients are happy.

  • The investment of resources is acceptable to ownership for new employees.

Phase 3

Pulling the trigger: You’ve weighed the pro’s and con’s.

You’ve had meetings with the key stakeholders within your firm.

You have your deadline and your initiation phase.

You’ve decided which strategy you’ll move forward with.

Now you have to make it happen.

This is where most organizations fizzle. If you are lucky enough to perform work in NYC, the solution is easy. You reach out to us.

It’s as easy as one meeting to get the ball rolling and implementation started. You join as a member, send a representative to a committee, depending on your membership level.

If you live outside of NYC, you can certainly call on us to help, but you have more work ahead of you.

Put a team in place that can create an implementation plan. Depending on which direction you head, your team size will vary, but a few things will hold true:

Deadlines:

  • The implementation plan (know when to stop planning and execute)

  • The start and end date for the training.

  • I would also suggest having a few deadlines for analytics at 6, 12, 18 and 24 month marks (measuring production rate and QC/QA of the trained workers vs untrained).

  • Who gets trained: do this systematically so it’s easier to track. If you pull one person per site, it’s a little harder to quantify. Keep the groups tight and keep them together so you can do a comparative analysis at the analysis markers.

Accountability:

  • Who does what by when. This is a big one and the reason so many things get pushed to the side. Unless there is a specific plan and someone specific is accountable with a deadline, nothing will happen.

Launch Date:

  • This goes back to the deadline, when do you want to launch your training. No whatever happens DO NOT change this date when people start making excuses about why they already have too much on their plate.

Phase 4

Sticking it out: You can’t teach grit.You either want this enough to stick with it when it gets rough, excuses are being made and things start going sideways or you don’t.

Every firm is different, so people will resist change in different ways. It comes down to one simple question:

How badly do you want this to happen?

If it’s important to you: make it happen. If it’s not, don’t waste yours and everyone else’s time.

As a leader, you also set the standards for your team, so if you find yourself or your team making excuses, I would suggest listening to this podcast.

Testing and Tweaking: Like the analytics, listen to the trainees and trainers when they give feedback.

This is one of my favorite areas, because it’s about asking questions and listening, instead of insisting.

It’s called an AAR (After Action Report). I would encourage you to write one of your own. The Department of Defense uses this model, use it as a template and modify it to suit your own firm. These are basic questions to get started:

  • What is the result you want?

  • What is the result you have and why?

  • How can it be improved?

  • What did you want to happen?

  • What actually happened and why?

  • How can it be improved?

I hope you found this information useful.

More than that, I hope you see the need to train your field staff.

There are so many reasons training and development of field staff pays for itself almost immediately.

Reach out to us when you are ready to discuss training. If you are outside of the city, feel free to reach out anyway, we are always available to help.

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