People are the biggest asset of any FM business, so employee training is key to your overall success, says Frank Clayton.
25 September 2015 | By Frank Clayton
Giving employees opportunities for growth and development is a key aspect of attracting and retaining the best people.
Training your employees helps to maximise their skills and potential and is also fundamental to ensuring your organisation has a robust platform for future commercial success. Here are five key steps to ensure well-rounded training in FM.
1. Holistic development
Many organisations believe that if your employees have been well educated in their field, they are automatically able to put what they have learnt into practice.
But in FM, a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to learning won't suffice and shouldn't end in the classroom. Development is ongoing, and should be tailored to each person's needs - and the needs of the client. It's important to recognise that each person has their own strengths that can meet the different needs of clients.
The customer service your people deliver should be the same high standard across the board, but tailored to each client's requirements. Some companies do this through continuous coaching and mentoring to help shape people to be the best they can be.
For example, consider how teams working on specific contracts could receive bespoke customer service training, designed with the client, to ensure that they are given a clear understanding of "what good looks like" and how to deliver it.
2. Understand your people
Having a good appraisal process goes a long way. As well as continuous mentoring and coaching, I recommend scheduling appraisals twice a year, acknowledging success and setting objectives to provide direction and focus for the coming year.
Feedback should be based on a set of behavioural and technical competencies that outline what's needed to be successful in the role and enables managers to give measured feedback from what they observe. If we can't track our employees' development, how can we help them improve?
When you know what these measures are and how well your people are doing in these areas, you can then help them excel - and tell them when they do!
3. Focus on strengths, not weaknesses
Far too many businesses train people based on their deficiencies. They focus on addressing weaknesses and trying to turn these into strengths.
But often these weaknesses aren't a crucial element of that person's role and are skills that are rarely used.
A person's strengths should be the reason they were appointed in the first place. Therefore, expecting them to be exceptional at something entirely different isn't realistic and will only waste time and resources that could be spent on really developing what they're really good at. Instead of providing courses and training programmes on areas that won't make a big difference to your overall output as a business, you should be focusing on developing core skills.
4. Empower your people
When considering what training programmes to offer, FM businesses need to balance their people's needs with wider business objectives, ensuring "line of sight" from the employee, through to the strategic aims of the business. Focus on empowering your people to drive their own development and trust them to make decisions about how they get better that will also benefit the business.
How can you do this? By tracking their performance, it will become clear what their needs are. And tracking progress isn't difficult to do, even when they are away from the office and working on site.
I would recommend creating a learning management system that employees can access remotely. A system that offers bite-size learning exercises will give people the opportunity to develop wherever and whenever they like. They will really appreciate that level of support.
5. Changing skill sets
In FM it's important to try to bring talented people into the business as early as possible in their careers. But once they join you, it's crucial to help them develop, so they can climb the career ladder.
Organisations in FM need to recognise that when they employ people, they are typically recruiting them for their technical knowledge and expertise. But as they grow and take up leadership positions, they need to develop here, too.
You can help manage this transition by offering a broad range of development opportunities. This could start with apprenticeship qualifications and progress through supervisory and line management, onto leadership and executive development. This enables you to develop people from entry level up.
As they take up the more senior roles, their development should feature hands-on project work, which will support their growth and expose them to the next level of the business.
You should adapt your programmes and increase the amount of coaching opportunities as your people grow.
Frank Clayton is head of group learning and development at NG Bailey