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  • Writer's pictureBrad Cortlandt

Are You Struggling With Onboarding New Technicians, Steep Learning Curves and Retiring Expertise?

Onboarding new technicians is an essential phase across industries and is crucial for maintaining uninterrupted operations. Yet, many enterprises and smaller businesses must grapple with lengthy training processes that can hamper operations, leading to extended downtimes and substantial financial losses, impacting both the servicing entity and the client due to production setbacks.

New technicians represent a considerable commitment on the company's part. Significant resources, time, and capital are poured into ensuring these technicians are primed to execute their roles precisely. Further, technicians are met with a tidal wave of information unlike at any time in history. In contrast to their forerunners, who acclimated to technological evolutions over a more extended timeframe, today's rookies are confronted with mastering intricate systems and technologies almost instantaneously, which poses an externally tricky task of bringing them to speed.

In essence, the induction of new technicians is a delicate balancing act: equipping them with indispensable expertise without overshadowing the seasoned professionals' valuable insights. It's imperative for businesses to continually refine the onboarding approach, ensuring a harmonious integration of both fresh and experienced tech minds while often probing for refinements in established induction paradigms.

Within this blog, I explore the myriad of conventional induction methods, underscoring the associated costs, time commitment, the constant window for enhancements and how fixaible is playing a role in easing the pain of onboarding.

Traditional Ways to Manage Learning Curves:

Before diving into modern solutions, let's first explore the conventional ways businesses tackle this challenge:

Structured Training Programs: These programs organize comprehensive training modules that provide new techs with hands-on experience. While they can be effective, developing content, hiring trainers, securing training locations, and the tools or software needed can be expensive. Additionally, such programs can span days to weeks, depending on the job's complexity.

Mentorship Programs: Newbies are paired with experienced technicians for real-time guidance. This approach builds a sense of belonging and community, fostering loyalty. However, companies may face a productivity dip as seasoned techs take time out to mentor. Mentorship can be a prolonged process, typically spanning several months.

Interactive Workshops: Workshops help techs understand complex processes in a tangible, hands-on way. Organizing workshops can be pricey, accounting for facilitators, materials, venues, travel expenses, etc. However, these are usually shorter, ranging from a few hours to several days.

Consistent Feedback: Regular sessions where technicians receive constructive feedback can be effective. While the costs are minimal, the time managers or supervisors spend giving feedback can accumulate. This is an ongoing process integrated into the tech's tenure. Techs who feel that their growth is being monitored and nurtured tend to have a higher level of job satisfaction, decreasing turnover rates.

Resource Libraries: A compendium of manuals, video tutorials, and more to facilitate self-paced learning is an excellent method to help techs learn. The costs are typically associated with the initial setup, especially if purchasing third-party materials or software platforms. However, many of these approaches fall short as people need to improve at taking the time to use them effectively.

Bridging the Technological Divide: The Challenges of Onboarding in Today's Rapidly Advancing World

The world of technology is growing and evolving at an unprecedented pace. This growth has brought about several challenges, especially when onboarding new technicians and keeping seasoned ones current.

The Overwhelming Wave of Modern Technology: New technicians are immediately confronted with technologies that have seen exponential growth and evolution. It's akin to asking someone to understand the full breadth of the internet – it's vast, deep, and constantly changing. Many techs are forced into highly specialized niches to cope, leading to higher costs, communication challenges, and logistical issues.

The Challenge of Rapid Onboarding: The urgency to get new techs up-to-speed means traditional, more extended training modules might not be feasible. Instead, they undergo crash courses, which can be stressful and might need to be more thorough. This can leave techs feeling underprepared and stressed.

Straddling Two Worlds: Seasoned technicians who have seen technology's gradual evolution face their challenges. While they possess deep expertise in foundational technologies, they may need help to stay updated with the latest advancements. This can sometimes put them in vulnerable positions, especially in industries where the latest tech can outpace legacy systems in a matter of months. Older technicians might lean on their younger counterparts' digital nativity to navigate newer systems. While potentially beneficial, this dynamic can lead to over-reliance and knowledge gaps.

The Challenge of Over-Specialization: Many technicians find themselves pigeonholed into highly specialized roles due to the sheer volume of information. While this can lead to deep expertise in a narrow field, it also means that organizations may need more specialists to cover all bases. This splintering can lead to increased costs and complexities in communication and project management.

The Hidden Costs of Technician Onboarding: Time, Knowledge, and the Untapped Potential of Veteran Techs

The process of onboarding technicians can involve many hidden costs that are often overlooked. These costs include the time and knowledge required to train new hires and the untapped potential of veteran technicians.

One of the main costs of onboarding technicians is opportunity cost. When seasoned technicians mentor new hires, they cannot spend that time on specialized tasks that only they can perform. This can result in potential revenue losses or project delays, as the diversion of their time can impact the team's overall productivity and lead to financial losses.

Another cost that may arise from constant training of new hires is potential burnout among experienced technicians. When constantly training newbies, they may feel like they are not utilizing their skills to the fullest, leading to decreased job satisfaction. This can lead to high turnover rates, further impacting the team's productivity and success.

Additionally, mentorship may create knowledge gaps. While hands-on experience is valuable, mentorship is often based on the mentor's personal experiences and methods, which may not always be up-to-date with the latest techniques. This can result in inconsistencies in training and may even lead to bad habits being passed down to new hires.

Striking a Balance: Navigating the Onboarding Conundrum

The rapid pace of technological advancement presents a dual-edged sword for companies in the technical field. While bringing new technicians up to speed quickly is crucial, relying too heavily on experienced techs for mentorship can lead to fatigue, burnout, and decreased productivity among these valuable team members. Hence, finding the proper equilibrium in the knowledge transfer process becomes imperative.

Rotational Mentorship: Spreading the Load: Relying on a single mentor for each new technician can be overwhelming for the mentor and limiting for the mentee. A rotational system, wherein newbies are exposed to various veterans specializing in different areas, not only diversifies the knowledge base for newcomers but also distributes the mentoring responsibilities. Such a system ensures that no single veteran is overburdened, and fresh techs benefit from a richer, more rounded training experience.

Harnessing the Power of Technology: In the age of digitization, it's logical to lean on technology to simplify complex tasks. Platforms like fixaible offer potential solutions to the onboarding challenge. With its AI-driven approach, fixaible can automate a significant chunk of basic training. This means that experienced technicians only need to step in for more intricate, nuanced issues, freeing up their time and ensuring that new techs are grounded in foundational knowledge before diving into complexities.

Recognizing and Rewarding Effort: If, despite all measures, a company still finds itself leaning significantly on its seasoned technicians for mentoring, it's imperative to recognize and reward this additional effort. Monetary incentives such as bonuses, public acknowledgment in team meetings, or even tangible benefits like extra time off can go a long way in showing appreciation. Such gestures not only boost morale but can also enhance company loyalty.

The Cost of Not Adapting

Navigating the technical learning curve isn't just a matter of convenience; it's a matter of financial and operational imperative. Here's a deeper dive into the ramifications of not bridging the knowledge gap:

Marginalization of Veteran Technicians: Experienced technicians, often referred to as the backbone of many companies, possess a wealth of irreplaceable practical knowledge that is lost.

Overwhelmed Newcomers: Modern tech is complicated. New techs can quickly find themselves out of their depth without proper onboarding and training. This leads to decreased confidence, reduced efficiency, and a higher turnover rate. The feeling of being "thrown into the deep end" without adequate support can deter many promising talents from committing long-term.

Resource Drain: Training and onboarding are significant investments. Every hour a new technician spends floundering due to a lack of structured training represents lost wages and missed opportunities for productive work. Multiply this by every newcomer, and the costs add up quickly.

Diverting Key Resources:

If a company's strategy is to pair every new technician with a veteran for on-the-job training, there's an inherent flaw. While mentorship is invaluable, constant pairing means that veterans spend less time on tasks where their deep expertise is needed. This reduces their operational efficiency and can lead to project delays and increased backlogs.

Lost Revenue and Reputation:

Mistakes due to inadequate training can result in operational hiccups, leading to delayed deliverables or compromised service quality. This can tarnish a company's reputation and result in lost clients or contracts, impacting the bottom line.

Employee Turnover and Retention Issues:

Unsatisfied employees, whether they're new recruits feeling overwhelmed or veterans feeling underutilized, are more likely to leave. Recruitment and retention costs are high regarding monetary expenses and the disruption it cause within teams.

The Path Forward: How Fixaible is Helping Bridge the Technological Divide and Reduce the Learning Curves:

Fixaible seamlessly combines foundational and modern technological insights, offering real-time troubleshooting, a comprehensive knowledge repository promoting collaboration, and providing personalized learning paths in the hands-on journey, positioning technicians for success in today's rapidly evolving tech landscape.

Blended Learning Platforms: At the core of Fixaible is its ability to serve both novices and experienced techs. The platform amalgamates foundational systems' insights with the intricacies of contemporary technologies. This fusion ensures that all techs, irrespective of their tenure, can access and comprehend vital information, making the transition and adaptation smoother.

Dynamic Troubleshooting Guides: One of the daunting aspects for technicians, new and old, is troubleshooting under pressure. Fixaible alleviates this stress by offering real-time, AI-driven guides that walk technicians through solutions step-by-step, diminishing the reliance on memory or exhaustive manuals.

Overlay of Real-time I/O Data: By providing a holistic view of system operations through schematic drawings, Fixaible empowers technicians to correlate problems more efficiently, ensuring quicker and more accurate resolutions.

Consistent Knowledge Base: As technicians near retirement, invaluable insights are potentially lost. Fixaible captures and builds upon this institutional knowledge, ensuring that the wisdom of yesteryears is preserved but is readily available for the next generation.

MLPD (Machine Learned Parsing of Drawings): By harnessing AI to interpret complex drawings, Fixaible's MLPD feature streamlines comprehension, minimizing potential errors and significantly reducing the learning curve associated with understanding intricate systems.

Final Thoughts

The world of technical professions continually evolves, presenting challenges and opportunities for new and seasoned technicians. While each era has unique hurdles, today's rapid technological advancements pose an unprecedented challenge: bridging the knowledge gap between experienced veterans and tech-savvy newcomers.

Veterans bring a wealth of foundational knowledge built over years of hands-on experience. However, in this fast-paced environment, they can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the rapid onset of new technological shifts. On the other hand, despite being tech-savvy and comfortable with new technologies, newcomers can struggle to grasp foundational concepts that veterans deeply understand.

One prominent challenge is the mentorship model. While the benefits of mentorship are undeniable – knowledge transfer, skill development, and fostering a sense of belonging – it also has hidden costs. Diverting experienced technicians to train newcomers means potential operational delays, not to mention the potential for burnout among seasoned technicians.

Moreover, the traditional methods of managing learning curves, while still valuable, are becoming increasingly insufficient. There's a burgeoning need for more innovative, streamlined, and efficient approaches, particularly as technology continues its relentless march forward.

This is where platforms like fixaible step in. By providing dynamic, real-time, reliable support that teaches as it guides, fixaible streamlines the learning process. New technicians can become field-ready faster than ever, ensuring operational excellence and satisfied clients.

This isn't just about onboarding faster; it's about equipping technicians with a tool that grows with them, ensuring they're always prepared to handle the latest challenges.

Furthermore, in this age, the return on investment in a technician's training and development directly correlates with their loyalty and commitment to the company. While training is undoubtedly vital, companies must also consider other retention factors like company culture, growth opportunities, and work-life balance.

Brad Cortlandt

Founder / CEO - fixaible



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