Spotting Opportunities for Training

Commercial construction continues humming along, but the colder months and the slower season are approaching. I’ve blogged in the past about a few of the more constructive ways commercial glass fabricators can spend time improving their operations, whether it’s performing some critical preventive maintenance tasks, re-evaluating plant flow or other proactive tasks to improve your business.

This year another one has come to mind after spending a couple of days on the road visiting customers. It’s a well-worn topic by now, but the labor shortage continues to impact organizations throughout our industry. Finding talented, hardworking individuals remains a challenge—and makes it all the more important that we continue investing in the people we have.

Training is one of the most important ways organizations can do that, and it’s important at every level. Equipping our people with the skills they need to succeed can lead to higher engagement and satisfaction—in turn leading to higher retention. Plus, you can trust your business is being driven forward by individuals who have the right skills to make and sell quality glass products and services for your customers.

For most of today’s commercial fenestration organizations, I see this breaking down across a couple of distinct lines:

Practical expertise for the future of manufacturing: Today’s and tomorrow’s shop floor workers need the right expertise to operate modern manufacturing equipment and to optimize the processes made possible by new technology.

That means, if your organization is making or has already made an investment in automation, taking the time to ensure all operators are familiar with using it is critical. Get everyone up to speed on the new processes, maintenance procedures and beyond. And if you’re rethinking manufacturing strategies during the slower months, everyone must fully understand the changes being made. Implementing a new software system to optimize what equipment is capable of? Train your workers on how to use the system and how to best leverage it to create new efficiencies.

This may all sound obvious, but it’s up to organizational leaders to ensure that the people making the products truly have what they need to do it properly. Thorough training for all employees interacting with new equipment or technology should be viewed as integral to that investment. Taking some of the slower months to shore up any skill gaps among your workforce can be a worthwhile use of your time this winter.

Management training to move your business forward: While the skilled labor shortages and worker turnover tend to be talked about in the context of plant floors, glazing teams and, increasingly, long-haul drivers for shipping, it’s important to remember that turnover happens at the top, too. And when it does, organizations need to be prepared with solid plans to fill those gaps.

A big part of this involves thorough succession planning and being able to identify strong talent already in your organization. There are a lot of benefits to internal hiring and promoting from within when the business conditions are right for it; it’s been shown that internal hiring can lead to higher engagement, and those hires tend to retain organizational knowledge and can get up to speed more quickly than external hires.

Training is important here, too, just as it is for any employee across the organization. If you’ve identified burgeoning talent, and you want to grow that talent to achieve bigger and better things within your organization, it’s important to provide the tools and resources that person or those people need to learn and succeed. There is no shortage of management and business training classes and courses out there, and it’s worthwhile to evaluate which ones might help the people in your organization.

The less busy winter months are a great opportunity to invest in your teams. That’s one thing to think about as we prepare for a successful year in 2020.