This article was published in the November 2023 edition of NTEA News.
When it comes to training, I think many people and organizations can become disenchanted or disillusioned. Everyone knows training is valuable and important within an organization; however, many companies just scratch the surface on the value and long-term positive effect training can have. As companies struggle to fulfill the necessary skills gaps with new employees, leaders need to remember they have the greatest impact on creating a willingness to learn based on how they encourage employee development.
Since I enjoy talking about sports so much, I want to draw a comparison to athletes. At the professional level, all athletes have trainers and coaches. They are very important in the development of a player’s skills, athleticism and the mental acuity in their profession. Can you imagine if players didn’t have coaches pushing them and trying to teach all the intricacies of the game they are paid to play? Now compare that to how we treat and engage our employees with training. Are we doing all we can to encourage learning and development and create opportunities for our employees to develop? Leaders need to find ways to personalize the lessons of the many teachers our employees come in contact with to help in skill development just as a coach would do for the different players on a team. Think about the enthusiasm with which a coach or trainer engages their athletes to learn. How we as leaders encourage, schedule and administer training can have a tremendous impact on the learning that takes place.
One way to think of training is to develop a mindset of creating a “culture of learning.” By creating opportunities for employees to learn and grow, organizations can take advantage of the human potential in everyone. Creating this culture is not easy, but it is seen and experienced every time training is assigned and administered.
Athletes don’t wake up and have the skills necessary to succeed. They practice, and they seek advice and coaching in an effort to continually train and improve their skills. As business leaders, we need to embrace a similar mentality to encourage our managers, trainers and employees to make time for training and encourage development even when work deadlines are looming. Leaders need to follow up on training efforts to reinforce what was learned and engage employees to practice what they learned. Just as athletes must continually practice what they are taught, employees need to be challenged to practice the skills they are learning as well. A culture of learning is a growth mindset. It allows for mistakes at all levels and utilizes them as learning experiences. Mistakes or setbacks in competition — and at work — can be viewed as opportunities for development in training and continuous improvement.
Developing a culture of learning is challenging, and it’s hard to measure the true value of training and development investments. I believe we can parallel this with sports and athletes, and it’s easy to realize. If we aren’t training or learning to improve our craft and skills, we’re going to be left behind. Today’s employees may not have all the skills needed to succeed when they walk in the door. How much are we as leaders investing in them to develop those skills? I remember the coaches, teachers and mentors who pushed me, challenged me and encouraged me to learn. They have had lasting impacts on how I lead today, and I’m forever grateful to them. I encourage all leaders to invest similarly in their employees and to make training engaging, challenging and related to development in order to create your own culture of learning at your business.
Regarding creating a culture of learning, I want to make sure you are aware of the tremendous resources NTEA has available to you. Below are examples of online training and education that are free to members, including:
- Truck Equipment 101 (TE101) covers all aspects of work trucks and the industry, including chassis and powertrains to bodies and cab styles. Learn more at ntea.com/te101.
- Truck Equipment 201 (TE201) modules are designed for those with technical knowledge seeking a deeper understanding of certain topics outlined in TE101. Learn more at ntea.com/te201.
- Truck Equipment Electrical Basics (TE Electrical Basics) is designed to help increase functional knowledge of truck electrical systems and components. Learn more at ntea.com/electricalbasics.
- Truck Frame Fundamentals covers information about commercial vehicle truck frames, including frame materials; loads and fatigue; stress concentrations; and truck frame splicing and reinforcement. Learn more at ntea.com/onlineeducation.
- Weight Distribution Fundamentals provides insights, strategies and tactics for proper work truck weight distribution. Learn more at ntea.com/onlineeducation.
For further information on NTEA’s online educational offerings, visit ntea.com/onlineeducation.
In addition to these online training offerings, NTEA events throughout the year provide educational opportunities (learn more at ntea.com/eventsandtraining). Also, be sure to check out the Work Truck Week® 2024 educational opportunities article featured in this issue of NTEA News.
Hopefully you’ll take advantage of all the training options NTEA has to offer. Enjoy and keep learning.