4 Ways to Promote Regular Training in Your Water Lab
There's always something new your water lab employees should know. Regular training promotes their professional development and hugely benefits your lab. But setting aside moments to learn can be tricky, as it means taking time away from important projects.
However, employees must understand that regular training is a crucial component of their job, just like completing client projects on time and following safe lab procedures. Here are some ways you can stress the importance of ongoing learning in your lab.
1. Embrace and Promote a Learning Culture
Given the steady flow of client projects, it's easy for employees to regard training as a low-priority item. As their manager, you need to dispel this notion.
Start by building and sustaining a workplace culture that recognizes the importance of learning. If you have an organizational mission or core values statement, make sure it reflects your support for continued professional growth. This way, current and new employees will have no doubts about the value your organization places on training.
In an article for eLearning Industry, education specialist Nikos Andriotis said the key to successfully promoting a learning culture is getting employees "to view learning new skills as something that is appreciated and rewarded in your company — as opposed to an excuse for their managers to ask them to do more stuff."
2. Designate Time for Studying and Learning
Establishing a culture of ongoing learning is critical, but it's equally as important to set aside regular time for individual skill development. Consider designating the final 20 minutes of weekly meetings for individual study and skill sharpening. Employees could use this time to access online resources, such as webinars or testing recommendation manuals. Recommend resources that can be consumed in short segments so your staff makes the most of this time.
Ongoing training efforts can also include monthly formal education programs, cross-training and mentoring, and regular lunch and learns. The last opportunity lets a staff member teach a skill to or share information with the rest of the team in a casual environment. Ideally, the focus of these sessions will be related to a current or upcoming lab project.
3. Develop In-Person and Online Training Options
The ultimate goal is to develop and sustain consistent learning opportunities for your workforce. Offering a wide range of training options can help you achieve that, as they can be easily woven into your employees' busy schedules.
For formal company-wide sessions, bringing in an outside trainer can be valuable. However, these meetings require a significant chunk of your workforce's time. It may also be difficult for everyone to attend. Consider filming these sessions so everyone can benefit from them on their own time, and make viewing mandatory.
You can also schedule viewing sessions for pertinent webinars. Organizations like the American Water Works Association offer a wide array of options, as do similar state and regional groups. These can also be viewed by employees individually and at their earliest convenience.
The beauty of flexible learning opportunities is that they accommodate different schedules and learning speeds. Employees don't always absorb information if they feel rushed or pressured to learn it, noted career and workplace expert Heather Huhman in an article for Entrepreneur. Offering both in-person sessions and online options allows staff members to participate at a pace that's best for them.
4. Encourage by Example
Your employees should be making an effort to continually learn new skills and regulations related to their jobs. However, you must lead the charge by doing the same.
When you practice what you preach, it reinforces the fact that continuing education is just as important to the lab as successfully completing client projects. Develop a schedule for yourself that carves out time for training, and share it with your employees. This can help them embrace learning, as it offers a visualization of how training can fit into a busy schedule.
Perhaps the most effective thing you can do is help them see that education's an ongoing affair. By making time for regular training, whether that's attending conferences or industry webinars, you can encourage them to do the same.
Helping your staff understand the importance of ongoing professional education is crucial to building and sustaining a successful lab. Finding the time for training can be challenging, but it's worthwhile. Over time, your lab will reap significant benefits, measured in learned skills, gained efficiencies, and satisfied clients.