Developing a training program and material for new employee orientation is something most utilities know is a good idea, but they lack the knowledge or system to implement a thorough program. They resort to job shadowing methods. Job shadowing is effective for the situations the supervisor encounters but will likely miss some key irregular scenarios.
It also may pass on poor safety habits and “problem patching” rather than problem-solving methods.
Don’t get me wrong, there is no substitute for hands-on training for some topics. But even hands-on training can benefit from knowing the background and having a learning path laid out in advance.
How it works in Real Life
Let me give you a real-life example. Joe was a Laboratory Manager for a water utility. He needed a new lab analyst and chose a distribution operator to fill the position. The operator had no prior experience in the lab, but Joe liked his willingness to learn and strong work ethic. Joe had developed a lab analyst training program which the operator went through in about 4 months. After completing the program, he was a fully competent Lab Analyst able to work independently and passed his lab analyst exam the first try.
Joe didn’t have to be there to teach the new operator everything. Joe gave him homework assignments, provided manuals, recorded some demonstrations and short lecture style explanations on the underlying principle if needed. For the parts that weren’t recorded, Joe had a training plan laid out, so the competencies were clearly defined. Here’s an example of Joe in the field demonstrating Sample Collection he used in the training program.
Where to start
That is the power of an effective training program. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with a Checklist of necessary competencies for the job. Then identify where the necessary information can be found, whether in a book, in a video, or a live demonstration. Once the competency is achieved, it’s signed off and dated.
Automating this process just means documenting it in a Learning Management System like MyWaterCollege.
I don’t feel like I can stress this enough. Having an onsite training program will make hiring and/or promoting so much easier. It takes the pressure off both you and the new employee. Include the competency checklist in the probation requirements so the standards are clear. How many times have you seen a person skid by probation without having fully learned the job, or seen a good person let go just before the probation ended?
Situations like these make hiring a new person stressful when it doesn’t have to be. When you’re free from the prerequisites of licenses or experience, you can bring in the right person with the right attitude and teach them everything they need to know.
With MyWaterCollege you will have the training available to the employee 24/7 and documentation on progress and test scores.
I’ll be covering how easy adding your own content is with MyWaterCollege next week so stay tuned.
But in the mean time you can get started with MyWaterCollege for free.