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Education: It’s Not Just for Students

(July 2009) posted on Tue Aug 25, 2009

Shop owners who come up with excuses to avoid spending the time or money to properly educate their employees are typically the first to blame their workers for mistakes and lapses in productivity. This article discusses the reasons why you should educate your staff and offers several resources for training.

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By Mike Ukena

A lot of business owners attend these shows and classes, but they don’t often bring key staff people. It seems that the smaller the shop, the fewer the people that come. I do understand this logic. It is expensive to bring people. It is tough to be short handed, especially in a small shop. And it is maybe not as cost-effective as the alternative.

The alternative, as I see it, is to attend as many of the classes as you can, take notes, ask questions, and above all, get a business card from the instructor. That business card is a nice way to make sure you have access to the instructor should your people ask you a question you did not think of. When you get back to your shop, make copies of the handouts and pass them around. After everyone has had a chance to read and comprehend what was explained in the class, conduct your own mini-seminar and discuss it with the group—even if that group is only one or two people. You don’t even have to shut things down to accomplish this training exercise. I have stood on the shop floor and discussed topics while people worked. It is amazing how much someone can think and talk even when they are working. By all means though, if you have a little free time, sit down and discuss.


Local distributor seminars

These are the gem of the educational spectrum right now. The classes are usually kept small on purpose so that everyone has a chance to participate. They may be a couple of hours or a couple of days. Most of the classes I give are usually one-day events, broken into two half-day classes. I like this format for a number of reasons. It allows business owners to split up their staff between morning and afternoon if the subject matter is different enough that they feel someone different should be there for the second one. The format also gives the instructor plenty of time to cover the topic. In addition, the distributors usually include a lunch in these all-day classes, which gives the students even more time to talk with the instructor on the topics at hand or other ones that were not even part of the day’s schedule.


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