The Importance of Training and Learning

By Josh Tafoya, Global Distribution Manager

I spent four and a half years as a trainer for Bold Technologies.

I started out fairly green (as trainers go). But what I had going for me was my ability to translate “Manitou” into “English,” and eight previous years installing or troubleshooting Manitou systems.

The biggest thing I was able to take away from all my time as a trainer is this: the most successful Monitoring Centers have people who never stop learning. It sounds simplistic to say, but it’s the absolute truth. There are many, many people I talk to regularly who are the most capable Manitou users in their organizations because they never stop learning.

Often, it is just regular use of the product, the reading of the release notes, and just plain “trying stuff out” that is the source of their learning. I don’t claim to have a complete knowledge of Manitou, just a thorough one. I know several Manitou users that know many parts of the software much deeper than I ever will because they dug into it, they tried things, and they asked questions of Bold when they couldn’t go any further. Sometimes they just asked questions of each other on BoldTalk. Of course, many people are also using BoldGenius, scheduling on-site training, or utilizing our Operational Excellence Program.

As a trainer, one of the things which bears repeating is there are different styles of learning. There are visual learners, who learn by seeing. There are audible learners, who learn by hearing. There are kinesthetic learners, who learn by doing. But most learners, in my experience, are a combination. I’ve found most often all three methods, when used together, are most effective.

For those that are Central Station Managers or Trainers, the thing that you’ve probably learned by now is another effective method of learning is by teaching.

Stay with me here.

For all the times I thought I knew something in Manitou I would need to teach, if it went much beyond the basic description of the item, I might have been in trouble. Because I was expected to show Monitoring Center users how to do stuff, and they would test it right away, there was no opportunity for me fake it. So often, the answer was “I don’t know, let’s try it and find out”. But this approach was incredibly successful in teaching me the ins and outs of Manitou. Knowing that I would be responsible for teaching it to somebody else meant that I needed to do more than have a cursory explanation, if for no other reason than I didn’t want to be called out in front of people for giving the wrong answer while knowing I was giving the wrong answer.

So, my advice is this:

Come to the Bold Users Conference and take classes. Use BoldGenius, if you can. I know there is a cost involved beyond the first three users, but the materials available are worth it.

The most cost effective way, though, if I’ve learned anything about Manitou, is to commit to showing somebody else how to use it. Even if the conversation with the learner begins with “I don’t know all of the details, but we are going to learn it together,” you will retain the knowledge better if you have to show somebody else. The added bonus? If you use this method for little bits of Manitou (or anything else for that matter) and give each person a little bit to teach another person, pretty soon everybody’s depth of knowledge grows. Point to one person and tell them to teach Open/Close Schedules to somebody else. Tell the next person to teach Reports to somebody else, and the next person to teach Programming, and so on.

Of course, Bold will always have our Training Professionals available for whatever needs arise, and the aforementioned learning opportunities aren’t going anywhere. No matter how it is that you’re learning, the key is to not stop. The best way to make sure that you are invaluable is to show your ability to learn new things.

(And of course, it doesn’t hurt to be able to show someone else, either.)