Nason

Many of you are going to work each day busy as ever, while others are struggling to keep the doors open. Each market is different, and the level of fear in a community is what drives results.
Our industry continues to fight to try to survive the pandemic. It is a watershed moment in time that will shape what our society and our industry looks like in way we probably don’t yet understand.
The challenge is that your ‘new normal’ will look different than your neighbours or your competitors or your customers. The driver of these differences is fear; fear of the unknown or the things we can’t see or control. It is our fear of the ‘new normal’ and how we conquer that fear that will determine how our industry looks two years from now. As Winston Churchill stated during World War II, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
But fear not! When it comes to growing talent in our industry, there are many resources available. We, along with our competitors, have always offered training opportunities either via self-paced online training or live classroom training events. During the pandemic we have seen an incredible increase in online activity as many of our larger strategic account customers leverage this scalable way to educate their team without endangering them when social distancing is required. However, along with all other classroom training organisations, we may have cancelled our face-to-face events during the pandemic.
For us the question is will you return when this is all over, or will some of you fear coming to the classroom like you did in the past? During this pandemic my team has had a great many conversations with our customers and have asked that question, and the answer is mixed at best. Many can’t wait to return to ‘normal,’ while others are cautiously stating they worry about being in large groups again when there is so much we don’t know about COVID-19 and our ongoing immunity. The challenge to training organisations is scale. If a significant percentage don’t want to be in large groups for whatever period of time, can we afford to hold as many classes as we did pre-pandemic? These are real questions that we are preparing for.
But there is one thing I’m certain of. Our ‘new-normal’ will be determined by you. Not by me or my team or anyone else’s point of view, but by the collective you. And that’s the way it should be.
As you decide what your new normal is, you should consider some things we are learning and creating to accommodate everyone. During the pandemic there were many companies who provided a tremendous amount of variety in regards to webinar-style training. I take my hat off not only to the companies that stood up to these opportunities, but especially to the trainers that offered their time, knowledge and passion, at no charge, as a way to stay engaged and enable you to take exceptional care of your customers during a unique period in our history.
My organisation led the way with two separate programmes that reached tens of thousands of industry professionals, some of which attended one of our events every night. We saw it as an opportunity to serve those who work so hard in this industry, but we also realised it was a great way to learn about new delivery models that make training more convenient, focused, digestible and affordable than ever before. Instead of committing to attend a classroom event over a weekend or number of nights after working hard in a hot shop, now you can potentially spread your training out over several weeks – or months – taking small bites that can be put into action before taking the next bite.
Certainly, we have seen a tremendous desire for staying connected with training during this time as our sessions are well attended with very high levels of interactivity. However, we still need to see it in action and do it ourselves before we ever feel comfortable with a new skill. As such, these new webinar style events will never replace the need for classroom or hands-on events, but they can potentially reduce the number of days you sit in a classroom. It’s kind of like committing to a favourite TV show that you watch once a week rather than forced to sit through a four-hour epic movie; you have choice. Take a small episode at a time or binge watch the whole season and replay what you didn’t quite get. Yet, at the end of the day you still want that experience of getting out, socialising with your peers and seeing your favourite instructor demonstrate a technique on a live vehicle.
I encourage all of you to consider that our ‘new normal’ is going to be a bit different from the past. It is not because you want to change; it is because others will. That type of change tends to provide a fertile ground for innovation. So, while we and others build out the tools that will assist you in designing your ‘new normal’, I encourage you to participate in as many no charge events that are happening during the pandemic (if we are still there when you read this) so you can find the new options that can make the continuing education that is so necessary for success in our industry a more attractive normal. Don’t be afraid, this industry is the best at removing fear. We all do it every day.