A guest post from our Director of Client Services & Training
Last week the international market made what I think is a smart move in refrigerant management by completing the first round of training sessions for the Refrigerant Driving License (RDL). It's part of AHRI and UN Environment's Global Refrigerant Management Training Program. They used a “Train-the-Trainer” format that I have found to be instrumental to helping our clients achieve long term compliance for their companies. But not all training programs are created equal. I have tried different tactics over the years and have had both success and failure. So I have put together what in my opinion are the top 5 components of a successful Train the Trainer refrigerant compliance training program.
When I say “successful” I mean selected employees responsible for facilities operations are converted into in-house refrigerant managers, no matter what their title is. Then they in turn bring that knowledge back to their facilities or regional internal teams. The compliance tasks can now be shared with the servicing and construction companies they utilize.
1. Choose the Right Trainee
How? Ask for volunteers. People who are forced to do the task of refrigerant compliance manager/trainer, whose hearts aren’t in it, were quick to offload the responsibility. For example, often being the refrigerant compliance trainer involves travel. So if the individual doesn’t like to travel, they'll find a way to get out of it. Other times the job involves asking people to re-do tasks. So if the newly appointed trainer doesn’t like to “nag” they will perform poorly and likely not last very long. Even going as far as leaving the company. It’s not an easy topic for someone who has not had direct HVAC/R experience. It takes dedication and time, so you want someone who has demonstrated a commitment to the success of the company; one who has the vision to see that facilities management compliance is a critical part of that success.
2. Go Through the Basics of HVAC/R First
It can be overwhelming. Especially when it gets beyond what’s in a household unit. You’ll notice in the RDL article that the classroom pictured is filled with various pieces of equipment. There’s a vacuum pump, recovery tanks, and the big blue thing off to the right with the fan on top is a portable “lab” with working parts that’s used for both diagnostics and show-and-tell. Start at zero. Work through diagrams and pictures. Take your time. Get them comfortable with the HVAC/R terminology before diving into the complexities of regulatory terminology. And before you move on…
Acclimate them to HVAC/R terms, then the compliance terms, then stop. Stop at each stage, actually, and test their knowledge. If they are way off, you may have to stop and go back. But ensuring the trainees have absorbed and fully understand the content is worth the time. Having a room full of people nodding their heads at PowerPoints for a few hours isn’t effective. You want people to internalize the information. When it comes time to review the test, I give the answers all at once, separate the class into smaller discussion groups, and leave the room. I ask them to go through each answer with their groups, discuss what they got right and wrong, and most importantly why. This encourages higher level problem solving, while embedding the “why” and “how” into their heads. It also creates relationship building.
4. Build a Team
A lot of times people taking our classes are in the same company but not from the same location. They don’t know each other. Consider what could happen if these future refrigerant compliance experts get to know each other. You end up with an internal network of experts who can share first-hand experiences and be resources for each other across the company. Building relationships among people learning the same material allows them to effectively work together to create a deeper understanding of the subject at hand, therefore building a strong foundation of corporate knowledge. You don’t have to keep turning back to us the trainers. Your organization will become self-sustaining in training internal teams and technicians.
5. Go Out in the Real World
Once you understand the examples, it’s critical to get to know your own system. Training is best done on site at one of your facilities. Trainees benefit profoundly from essentially putting a face to a name. I like to make the examples real; take trainees out to take a close look at the equipment they’ll actually be responsible for rather than relying solely on my handouts.
The consequences of poor compliance training are high. Not only are you at risk of losing money by not operating efficiently, you can be fined, lose business, and make shareholders unhappy. Compliance is a moving target. If you have a good foundation in place with a well-trained internal network, the ever-shifting complexities of compliance will no longer seem as overwhelming.
Here at trakref® at least 4 of us spend 50% of our work day answering questions from clients (and non-clients) about why certain tasks need to be performed, what and where to keep data, clarifying confusion related to regulations or guiding people to resources so they can support their team. It's very common for questions to come from administrators and technicians alike. Few have been through the EPA training, and those that have usually need additional training because regulations change. Add to that the state-level regulatory changes that are developing as states join the now 25-member US Climate Alliance. Those changes are not part of traditional EPA training. So we have come up with a unique curriculum that encompasses local, state & federal regulations. If you buy, sell, install, engineer, design, repair, retrofit, use, own, manage or salvage any type of HVAC/R equipment, click the button below for details on our program.
At trakref® we are HVAC/R experts. Click below to find out how to make our Train the Trainer program work for you.