When I first came to work in an architect’s office, I wasn’t offered an educational and training program. Later on, the company subsidized continuing education opportunities, but there was no interest shown in internal training to render us better employees and more valued assets to the firm.
The only business training I had was what I’d been able to glean from my former employers, and my own practice continued this approach. I replicated my former employers weak continuing education system in my office, paying the cost of the programs and never knowing if the education had any value.
Later on, from an online program, about team building, I learned how to create and implement education program that truly makes a difference for my practice and my employees.
Team members, once they become long-term are required to partake in a program of education, training and growth. Each team member grows through executing their role on projects, however additional strategic training will exponentially increase their value to the team. Not only will the team member bring value to the firm as a result of our strong education program, they will begin to realize their own increased worth and self satisfaction.
Setting up an education program
When setting up an education program, it is important to recognize the various interests and aptitudes of each team member. Take time to understand the goals and aspirations the team members see for themselves. The firm can facilitate their desires and in the long term benefit by building a loyal and valued employee, always on the rise.
In my experience, the best methods for team growth is to have senior team members running a training program for juniors. Projects are an ideal learning opportunity as ready-made examples. Taking time here to educate in real time the nuances of the work will allow the junior employees to benefit benefit from the seniors many years of experience.
In the past 10 years the design field has become inundated with new products, new opportunities and new methods, which can be applied to the design of a project. To stay up-to-date on all the new opportunities takes an active education program. The firm that provides opportunities for growth improvement of their team will become recognized as industry leaders as clients expect their architects to be fluent in all the recent developments in design and construction. A well-trained team will be the go-to choice for any client as they will feel they are working with an industry leader. Our training in schools of architecture provides the basis for our life long education. To be effective in the profession, an architect must continuously strive for more knowledge, training and skills.
In order for firms to attract and keep talent, they must provide strategic growth and learning within the context of day-to-day doing the work. In my opinion, doing this on a casual basis is not enough to achieve adequate results. A clearly laid out annual program of training and education for each team member, along with an evaluation, will ensure measurable growth of each team member. The growth of the team member will create strength in the team that can be measured.
5 suggested training programs for your team:
1. Weekly in-house ‘question and answer’ sessions. These Q&A’s if recorded can become a valued resource in the future.
2. Team site visits to view and discuss relevant progress and details. The value of a site visit is seen the drawing come to life by all the team members not only the construction supervisor.
3. Group discussions with clients, where clients discuss their needs and expectations. First hand feedback is invaluable.
4. Debriefing completed projects – what went right and where could improvement be made for the next project – a case study.
5. Detailed training – with team - must stay focused and to the point
- building code
- zoning by-laws
- product presentations
Architects like topics of design and detail. While important, real client satisfaction is knowing how to solve all the myriad of issues that arise throughout a project – all the unforeseen challenges that can cause annoyance for the client. Awareness of these will result in a happy client.
Did you learn this when you studied architecture?