Don’t Undervalue Training

Training can seem like a wasted expense when an employee leaves, but that doesn’t mean you should stop making the investment.
Don’t Undervalue Training

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I once read a quote that sums up the value of training.

One company executive said to another, “If we keep training people and they leave, we’ve lost our investment and wasted the expense of training them. Perhaps we should quit training them and save the money?”

The other executive replied, “I wonder what would happen if we quit spending money on training and they stay?”

I see lack of training as a real detriment in the lateral lining process, especially when jobs go bad and a failure occurs.

I often reference a story about the simple task of mixing hardener and base in a pail with a drill, and the new guy who wasn’t schooled on how to run the drill and mixing bit. The resin didn’t get mixed right and after the liner was wetted out and installed, some parts cured and other parts didn’t just because of this simple mixing error. On a more personal note, I’ve been guilty of not training the trainers on some simple things that make the process easier, and that’s why we started holding “train the trainer” sessions.

That said, we in the plumbing and drain cleaning industry are more hands-on and often have a tendency to do certain tasks ourselves because it will be faster than taking the time to show someone else how to do it — especially when time figures into the mix and you feel that hardening resin is looming in the immediate future.

Several years ago, I watched a three-man crew perform a job. I should clarify: It turned out to be a one-man crew with two “step and fetch” helpers who knew nothing other than the simple task each was assigned to by the crew chief doing all the work. There was absolutely no instruction or explanation about what was going on.

When they were finished, the crew chief left the other two guys there to make sure the heat kept running and the pressure didn’t fall below 5 psi. He did show them how to add water to maintain pressure if necessary. After he stepped away, I went with him to share my observations about the job. Before I had the chance to bring up the lack of training for his guys, he said, “I can’t get these guys to figure out this lining and I’m left to do all the work myself!” 

Where to start? I didn’t want to insult the guy, so I took another approach and suggested that he spend some shop time having the guys do a shot, all by themselves, with him only observing and not touching any of the equipment or materials. I told him to make notes while he watched, and then afterward review with his two employees what they did well and what things would help them improve. If their shot failed, they would learn something. He thought about it and committed to try it.

A few months later, I ran into the crew chief who said his crew was down to just those two guys. They didn’t need him on the job site anymore. He was pleased by how well they had progressed and could spend his time doing other things in the business that needed his attention.

If you train your people properly, they will not only do a better job for you, but you can also save some manpower costs as a bonus. Retaining employees is another matter, but no matter what, the value you get from training is always worth the expense.

About the author
John Heisler is the owner of Pipe Lining Supply and Quik-Lining Systems Inc. He has 20 years of experience in the CIPP lining industry and over 40 years in the underground construction industry.


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