Are You Allergic to Training?

It’s time to be honest with yourself.  Are you or your lead drivers allergic to training? Are you afraid you’ll learn something or attend a course, class, or school where someone knows more than you on a given subject?  I’m not trying to call you out or call you a “chicken” or a “coward.”  I’m trying to get you to see past a common feeling in our industry in order to protect yourself, your business, and your employees.

I’ve trained thousands of people in my career, starting with being a section leader in high school band to several types of instructor duty in the military to passing on what I’ve learned in 33 years in towing and trucking.  This isn’t about me, though.  This is about you.  Please allow me to tell you there are three main types of people when it comes to formal or informal training:

The Eager Learner

The first type is eager to learn something new, challenges themselves to learn something new every day and jumps on any opportunity they get to attend a course or class.  They’re like a sponge and soak up everything that’s thrown at them and take that info back to work with them, passing it on to coworkers and using it in their daily work.

The Reluctant Learner

The second is the person who reluctantly attends training courses, even if the boss is footing the bill, covering travel, meals, and hotel.  The person gets to meet with others in the industry and have a mini-vacation away from the ringing phone and 24-hour call.  They may be reluctant, but they attend, learn and retain, and it makes them better at their jobs.

The Unteachable

The last one is one I’ve seen in many owners, managers, and especially those with huge egos and insecurity issues.  You can’t teach them anything because they already know everything, and anything presented to them that challenges their ignorance is just “stupid” and “unnecessary.”  The truth is that their knowledge is limited to what they learned early in their careers, which may be a pretty small bit of information, and their ego and insecurities won’t allow them to admit they may not know something.  So, training is “stupid” and a “waste of time.”  And you know, with an attitude like that, they’re absolutely right.  In fact, as a trainer, I’d rather slide down a mile-long, rusty, razor blade and then into a pool of alcohol than deal with one of these “know-it-alls.”

The problem is that training IS necessary for initial certifications, for each time you learn something new and want to pass it on, for recurring training requirements, and for promoting someone into a new role.  Training in our industry is remarkably inexpensive, compared to initial and recurring training in most other career fields.  The next time you’re in a major car dealership, ask the service manager what it costs him or her to maintain the training requirements for each automotive technician.  The manufacturers help a little, but the dealership bears the brunt of the cost.  It’s quite staggering.  In fact, for what a dealership pays to maintain yearly training on an “A Tech,” you could send one of your people to every level of Wreckmaster and have money left over.

As many of you know, I do expert witness investigations, formal reporting, and court testimony in towing and trucking liability cases.  Training is the NUMBER ONE problem that gets companies hooked up in the legal world: lack of training, lack of documentation, lack of general knowledge.  If one of your people makes a mistake, and they’ve never been formally trained by you or anyone else, and you have no documentation to show for it, then your company is liable-period!  If one of your drivers is negligent and violates your policies, and HAS been trained and the training is documented, 99% of the time, your company doesn’t get whacked.  Pardon me for using normal-language terms, but I’m not a lawyer.  I don’t even play one on TV.

Training is simple.  Gather your people, tell them what you need them to do and how to do it.  Work with them one-on-one to make sure your communication is working.  Then document it.  Documentation doesn’t have to be some colorful, expensive certificate.  It can just be a Word document with the date, location, training subject, who attended, who taught, and everyone’s signatures.  If you want help with documentation, then you can use one of the many resources we have available for formal training.

Either way, remember, throwing someone the keys and pointing to the truck is NOT training, hurts your equipment, hurts your employees, and gets you sued.  Ask yourself: Can I afford to write a $200,000 check?  Speaking of checks, check your ego and insecurities.  It really is ok if you don’t know everything.