Education Challenges and Solutions within the Architectural Signage Industry
Education and training are among numerous components that contribute to the growth and success of virtually any organization, and the construction industry and specialized areas such as architectural signage are no exceptions. It could be argued that training challenges are even greater within the architectural signage industry due to unique business methodologies, a wide array of signage technologies both old and new, and special services that compliment and add value to signage and wayfinding solutions.
New Hire Training
New hire training is perhaps the most critical part of an education program, as it must provide a solid foundation that newly hired employees can immediately draw from and additionally build upon for the long term. Trainers must balance the coverage and introduction of many different subjects without overloading students and thus reducing the learning benefit. Ultimately, if students complete new hire training and can answer questions including but not limited to the following with a ‘yes’, then this helps to verify that the initial training was successful:
- “Do I understand my company’s history and how it shapes our business philosophy?”
- “Have I learned critical elements and considerations used in producing architectural signage?”
- “Am I now familiar with how our company sets itself apart from the competition?”
- (Sales Consultants) “Do I understand the types of available Marketing, Training and Technology resources, provided by my company, that I can use to build relationships and enhance my sales pipeline?”
- “Have I learned how to access resources that will empower me to continue learning and to quickly locate additional information?”
- “Have I become acquainted with my corporate support staff and do I know how to contact them with questions?”
Flexible and Varied
Once the initial educational foundation is set, training should be flexible and varied to meet specific needs and company roles. For example, Project Managers may require additional training on special project management-based software applications. Additionally, if an architectural signage company has a relationship with an organization such as the AIA (American Institute of Architects) as a Continuing Education Provider, then Sales Consultants should take advantage of special train-the-trainer classes that empower them to sharpen their presentation skills, learn new information, and become certified to teach education topics to groups of architects and designers. These types of programs provide solid education about the industry and help to build positive, lasting relationships with key participants in the construction industry that can lead to stronger sales pipelines and better sales results.
Build Upon Educational Foundation
Education departments must also understand how to effectively continue to build upon the educational foundation, using a variety of learning methods to communicate product information, company procedures, technology tutorials and soft skills development. Available learning technologies should be evaluated and trainers should be flexible and skilled in various technologies, so that education can be developed and delivered in the format that best fits the learning needs and audience. Nowadays, good trainers must be comfortable providing instructor-led classes, presenting via webinars, developing training videos, and implementing and managing online learning and learning management systems (LMS). Webinar tools provide an excellent distance learning method of delivering live content to numerous company locations, making supplemental learning more interactive yet cost-effective. Online learning systems can provide a wide variety of courses, meaning that courses can be taken by employees with different roles within the company, and a web-based learning system can easily reach and benefit more employees regardless of geographical location.
In addition to the above primary considerations, training may also take on support, coaching and subject matter expert roles. Trainers, especially within our industry, must also be flexible and versatile, keeping an open mind to new learning methods, architectural signage technologies, and company initiatives. Balancing traditional learning requirements, company / industry education, role-based learning, technology training and coaching activities is an ongoing and fascinating challenge for Education departments within our industry.
Director of Corporate Education