Offering online learning for a construction project controls team, to me, seems like a no-brainer.
Project controls is tough work. If I had a team of project controllers, I would want them to feel valued and supported in their jobs as much as possible.
Because I’m in the business of educating project teams, I do my best to stay on top of workplace trends related to learning, productivity and employee retention.
–LinkedIn 2020 Workplace Learning Report
There are some great reports out there, like LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report. According to the report, the #1 reason employees leave companies is lack of professional development. Recruiting and onboarding new employees is lengthy and not cheap.
So why aren’t all of us in the project controls world investing in our people and their development?
Logikal’s 2019 Global Project Controls Survey seems to reiterate the same issue. One key finding from the report indicates that only 17% of respondents believe their project controls team have the skills required to perform their functions successfully.
–Logikal’s 2019 Global Project Controls Survey
The two main areas of focus were listed as “Planning” and “Data Analytics”. Clearly, there’s a need for upskilling. Maybe you can sense it yourself with your team or with those you work with.
Online learning solutions, including Plan Academy’s own (shameful self-promotion, all me), offer so much convenience and Return on Investment for your project controls staff. Let me highlight a few reasons:
- Easy to start: We can load up a team of 30 students in our learning management system in 30 or less minutes. We make it quick and easy for trainees to start right away.
- On-boarding new employees: Companies can incorporate online training courses into their on-boarding process for new employees. New hire? Get them setup quickly and let them be productive learning their first days on the job.
- When the course is done, learning doesn’t end: Once a trainee completes a course, that’s not the end of using the training. Online courses can be made available for long afterward. The training becomes a job aid, and helps project controllers relearn & refresh themselves. Here at Plan Academy, we extend course access for a minimum of a full year.
Tips to Help Your Project Controls Team Love Online Learning
Here are some pointers that I’ve learned on the path about learning to like (or even love) online training. Just a reminder that I’ve been training project controllers for 14 years, these tidbits come from experience.
Make Learning Important
Make learning an important task for your team. One that gets regular attention consistently.
Give your project controllers some time to dedicate to learning something new.
For example, Monday’s are usually crazy, but Thursday or Friday afternoons are less so. Give them 2-3 hours a week to focus on learning something new, taking an online course, watching YouTube, exploring a new piece of software or even reading industry blogs & papers.
Can you link learning to year-end compensation?
Can you set milestones & celebrate when they are reached?
We have to reset our beliefs around project controls productivity. Sure there are deadlines to meet and month-end reports to compile, but setting some time aside for learning will make your team more nimble, more appreciated, will improve employee retention and likely make them happier.
Now don’t forget to apply the same to yourself.
Share the Team Vision
What is your vision for your project controls team?
Is it to take on bigger and better projects? Is it to help the company reach a goal?
Is it to improve your community by constructing buildings that will stand the test of time?
If you don’t have a vision for your project controls people, then take an hour tomorrow and create one. It will be the best hour you’ve ever spent.
Now help your team see this vision. Make them a part of it.
Focus not on what they need to do, but on who they are going to become with these new skills to accomplish this vision.
For example, one construction manager I’ve worked with explained to his team how they would be more competitive in their industry with these new skills; how they would be able to take on bigger jobs and become a better company. He helped his team see the bigger picture. And his team jumped on-board without hesistation.
Project controls can sometimes be so drab, but it can also be inspiring. Show them what’s possible.
Learning improves when people are:
Learning suffers when people are:
Help trainees get started
Emailing out logins to the new online learning system with a note saying “Here you go. Please complete the training by June.” isn’t going to get you far. It’s going to turn your team off and alienate them.
Help your project controls team get started by guiding them with the first steps.
I always recommend managers book a team meeting or online session where we can demonstrate how to get going. This is On-boading 101 and I’ll try to cover the following:
- how to login to the online learning system
- how to use the training system – a short walkthrough
- how to monitor your progress
- where to go for help when you’re stuck
It’s important that this is a team meeting with the manager. The manager needs to lead the team.
Track their metrics
One of the big benefits of delivering online learning to your project controls team is the ability to track your people’s progress.
With in-person training, there is no tracking – they attended the course, or they didn’t. There isn’t any feedback on their engagement with the material.
But with online learning management systems, like Plan Academy’s, you can see all sorts of details about how your team is progressing:
- # of logins
- # lessons completed
- quiz scores
- assignments attempted
- hours of video watched
Managers can use this data to help trainees who are stuck, reward trainees who are excelling, and report up on the impact of training.
You can have the tools to help your team succeed, thrive and feel empowered.
As you can see, I’m a big fan of online learning, and not just because I run an online learning business for construction project controls.
I’ve taken many online courses myself well before Plan Academy came into focus; from PMP-prep to English literature, Photoshop to How to fly a drone.
There’s such an incredible convenience & efficiency to online learning that it keeps me coming back.
Plan Academy hosted a booth at the recent Western Winter Workshop conference, and I asked many attendees if they engaged with any sort of online learning. The majority said NO.
I see project controls people benefitting significantly from online training — the ability to learn on-demand, at your own pace is a perfect fit for the uber-busy project controller.
I truly believe your project controls team will love online learning if they aren’t already doing it.
What are your thoughts on project controls online learning? How do you think project controls can benefit from online learning?