Nancy Troyano PhD, BCE, Entomologist /Director of Technical Education and Training for Rentokil North America offers the following training best practices for pest management companies:
1. Structured On-the-Job Training:
While textbooks and e-learning courses are important, the majority of learning takes place on the job. Most pest management companies recognize this and send their new employees to ride along with their experienced technicians as part of their training. However, the reality is that not much thought is given to how learning is actually taking place during this time. Often, the experienced technicians “train” by having the trainee watch them work, or may view the trainee as an extra set of hands, sending them off to do the mindless tasks in order to get the service done faster. As a result, learning is haphazard and slow to take place, among other things.
This is why it’s important to offer a structured on-the-job (OJT) training program, which should consist of a list of specific tasks the trainee must perform. If possible, the tasks should mirror what the trainee is learning in their academic assignments, including textbook reading, e-learning courses, classroom training, etc. The trainer should be familiar with the program and educated on training techniques. Both the trainee and trainer should sign and date the task lists to verify the training has occurred.
Having a structured OJT program ensures critical skills are being taught in an efficient manner. As a result, learning is accelerated, while safety risks and costly mistakes are minimized. Structured OJT also reduces the variability in task performance among the technician workforce. As a result, the technicians will be performing services safely, and in a manner consistent with the mission and values of your company.
2. Online Training:
From e-learning courses to smartphone apps, online technology is a superior training platform. Among other benefits, training delivered using this platform is:
• Convenient: Anyone who runs a service route knows schedules can be quite unpredictable. Online training allows technicians to access their education when it’s convenient for them.
• Engaging: With the vast amount of training technicians are required to have, it’s important to provide engaging material. An interactive e-learning course will hold the learner’s attention much better than black and white text on the page of a textbook.
• Powerful: Using online learning tools in the form of videos, interactive courses, etc. will increase retention rates, as adult brains generally process visual and auditory information much quicker than reading it as text. A video of someone inspecting a crawlspace will have a much greater impact compared to reading instructions about how to inspect a crawlspace in a textbook.
3. Social Learning:
Most technicians learn best by watching each other. Create a place online, such as a private website or within your own learning management system, to give technicians an opportunity to share their ideas anytime they want. Encourage technicians to share videos of their own ideas or innovations that will enhance the professional skills or knowledge of their colleagues and/or result in better customer service. This also sparks a healthy sense of competition and generates job-related enthusiasm—not to mention an endless supply of ideas!