Are You Really Being Trained?

PUBLISHED BY: Brian Monaghan - Training Manager, Bostik

Brian has been involved in the industry for over 20 years. His passion lies with flooring of all varieties with his greatest expertise being in adhesive products and subfloor preparation systems. Brian ensures to keep up with industry changes and feeds this knowledge back to professionals of the flooring industry to make sure when floors are laid they perform to their maximum potential. 

I love training people and providing expertise to help them in their day-to-day installations, and I feel that training for me is a symbiotic experience. 

I believe people respond positively to my drive and ethos in life, including work, as it is very much to improve other people. This can be in the form of knowledge, understanding, or even as a coach in sports such as soccer, football and hurling.

When coaching an underage team, I allow the players to try things, make them have a go and let them question how they can improve. Nobody is left out, and I make sure to help them in their game wherever I can. I didn’t realise this was out of the ordinary as it was just my way, but a parent complimented me on this training style.

Training flooring professionals is no different to me. As I see it, you have to give the trainees the opportunity to learn, understand, and, most importantly, to use the products which they are being trained on. Evaluation of their performance should also be a key component as it’s only by evaluating that we see improvement.

“It’s the improvement that has to be the focus, not the performance level.”

When I think nowadays of how the term ‘training’ is described in the industry, I feel perhaps there’s a bit of a liberty taken. How many of you have been to a manufacturer for ‘product training’, only for a ‘trainer’ to demonstrate what their products do and how they can solve all your problems? It’s usually done in a very slick manner, it must be said, and I’m not for one moment suggesting this isn’t valuable in itself but is it training? A product showcase or demo day for sure, but training? Not in my eyes. Imagine if the kids being trained at football were shown how to take a penalty and never given the chance of taking a kick themselves; that would be madness.

Don’t get me wrong, a great deal of manufacturers’ training courses involve the contractor and ensure they all have a go at whatever it is they’re there to be trained on, but this requires much more commitment from the manufacturer and the tradespeople.

Learning about moisture in subfloors and, for example, how to use a Carbide Bomb test may be something quite basic to a technical person. However, without actually handling one, knowing how to assess a subfloor for the right place to put it, how long to leave it and finally how to interpret the results won’t sink in until there’s a task to be done and an evaluation of success.

I’ve mentioned Carbide Bomb tests as this is something I’m familiar with and adept at using, but when it comes to installing a cap ‘n’ cove or an LVT design floor, then I’m out of my comfort zone. To enable a professional to be confident on such a task, they need to ‘have a go’.

“Fail in the classroom, not on a client’s job!”

Smoothing compounds and even DPM applications can all be seen in videos or presentations. Still, until the products have been mixed up, carried to an area, applied correctly, and the realisation of how long it takes until the following process can be carried out is experienced, the professional is no better trained than Joe Bloggs.

Manufacturers are the designers of products and systems. They play a crucial role in moving the industry forward, so don’t turn down any opportunity to go to a manufacturer’s day course (or indeed three-and four-day courses) to learn and be trained in the correct use of their products. As we all know there is no end to learning. A recent visit to a vinyl manufacturer’s training centre opened my eyes to what can be achieved with an LVT design floor, even when fitted by a novice being trained!

Feedback to the technical team is something I’d always encourage. We, too, are continually learning, and as professionals, it’s you who are at the coalface and see more of the reality than perhaps we do.

As we’re all aware, there are specific training schools and, sadly less than in the past, colleges where intensive training can be completed. Particularly consisting of the entire aspect of theory, practical and evaluation. The whole gamut from subfloor moisture to the sealing of timber floors is possible with all steps enabling product use and hopefully evaluation of understanding.

It can lead to skill-based certification, which can be crucial, especially to newcomers into the industry. Again, this is time and investment from both parties, so choose the right course for you to achieve what you need.

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