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Developing a training culture: A new approach to age-old concerns

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According to a recent poll by the Fails Management Institute, here are the Top 10 areas of concern for construction company owners nationwide:

* Securing work * Profit margins * Personnel problems * Competition * Insurance * Bonding * Mold * Reverse auctions * Leadership and training * Business succession plan

At first glance, it appears training is at the bottom of the list. In reality, however, training is associated with every item on this list. Companies with a training culture take a proactive and continuous approach to improving these concerns. For a company where training is part of its vision and mission, the goal is not to resolve issues, but to run a successful construction business. As an example, in order to secure more work, it is likely the company will expect its estimator to have had formal training and attend seminars to keep current with common practices. Similarly, the individuals responsible for marketing should be required to update their skills regularly. In some companies, cross training between these two functions makes a great deal of sense. A company can finish each project on time and under budget, but can still have problems making money on the project. Profits are a function of cost accounting, estimating, cost containment and productivity. The person responsible for a company's financial health must also stay on top of the latest forecasts, trends and operating procedures. In addition, office staff should strive to continually upgrade skills to help increase both productivity and profitability. In a tight market, it's important to have people in positions who can take advantage of every opportunity -- this can make all the difference when it comes to being competitive. Giving each employee the opportunity to improve skills and knowledge through training is the best approach to dealing with work force. If managers, supervisors, office and field staff are well-trained, a company should be able to expand the type and scope of projects the company can successfully complete. For many companies nowadays, a changing market has become a real and almost constant phenomenon. What might have been a core market for decades has now become an obscure one. Companies with a well-trained and flexible work force can adapt and can even thrive in the face of a changing market. Every successful company asks the question, "What types of training will make the biggest difference in resolving our top 10 concerns?" Training needs to be planned and part of an overall company strategy. A company can have the best trained skilled workers in the industry, ready and willing to take on the most difficult projects; but if its estimating or marketing staff functions at a low levels, the whole company will experience problems. The reverse is true. The best estimator in the world cannot compensate for a poorly trained field staff. Training that is not company-wide could ultimately become a waste of the company's best resources. Every company faces competitive challenges on a regular basis. The approach a company takes to meet those challenges is what defines it as an organization. For the company with a solid training culture, each of its top concerns can be addressed with long term solutions. There is no magical quick fix -- but there are a great many resources available to help. ABC can be a true training partner every step of the way. By providing the vision to help your company look beyond its top 10 business concerns, ABC can work with you in developing your company's short and long-term strategies and training solutions.

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