This week I was able to interview Fernando Casanova, our Vice President of Quality, on the courses LABVANTAGE has been offering its employees. Not only are these courses free, but they are very beneficial to everyone in the company. Read on to discover how this training helps our staff do a better job for our customers!

MS: How long have these courses been offered at LABVANTAGE?

FC: This is the first year we’re offering these training courses. In February, we got a grant from the state of NJ of $50,000 worth to train our employees.

MS: Why is LABVANTAGE providing this training?

FC: The main thrust is to equip employees with tools they can use to make quantitative, informed decisions. For example, we had the Six Sigma Introduction course, the Kaizen Workshop, and courses such as Conflict Resolution and Identifying and Eliminating Waste, to teach employees what to do when a conflict comes up. How they can handle it with an employee, a customer, a peer or a boss, etc.

MS: Who instructs these courses?

FC: Charlie Bowers, he has a Six Sigma black belt and a Master’s in Six Sigma, so he is qualified to teach anyone! He really understands business.

MS: What times are these courses offered?

FC: Typically, they start between 8:30 and 9AM EST. We try to have them early because we want to get some of our European folks involved. We also record them so our Indian colleagues can make use of the courses too.

MS: What can someone do if they wanted to take a course, but missed it?

FC: They can find the course at our FTP site. Once you log in, you go up to the top level and look for the Quality folder where we have recordings of all the trainings we’ve done.

MS: Is this training available for anyone who works at LABVANTAGE?

FC: Yes, everybody here. We’ve been having a pretty good attendance. At least for the Kaizen Workshop, we got 40 people trained.

MS: What is the Kaizen Workshop about?

FC: They are total quality management tool set that helps you understand what brainstorming is, what prioritizations are, what quality by design is, and what set of tools you can put together to hand off a better product to a customer.

Funny story: Mike Thomsen, Network Administrator, took the Kaizen course and basically he and his wife had gone to a store and were weighing the possibilities of whether they get one thing or the other, so they used the Kaizen method to weed out what they would buy or what they wouldn’t buy. It’s stuff that’s practical!

MS: Why should employees take the time out of their busy schedules to attend a course?

FC: If you really want to do well, not only in the company but in your career, these are the courses that would be essential for you to have in your tool kit. You can say I know how to run a Kaizen Workshop, what it takes in terms of leadership skills for managers, or I understand the organizational performance. These go beyond just working at LABVANTAGE and give you added value for yourself. We want to equip our employees with these courses because as a leadership team, we are interested in our employees’ development. This is not only technical and organizational development, but personal development too.

MS: Are the courses interactive?

FC: I can’t think of any course where you sat there and did nothing. All of the courses have been highly interactive, and relevant to our jobs and what we do every day. Sometimes we did brainstorming and kept going around the room because people were really thinking of what else we need to improve on and how we can put these into topics, and which ones we should work on first; showing prioritization. We had other courses like Conflict Resolution where we had to role play, so you can get one person saying you are not doing your job right and then observe his approach to the individual’s complaint, and their response.

MS: What are some of the courses being taught now?

FC: The latest ones we had, focused on were valued based customer service and problem solving in honor of the customer service week in October. What dampened the spirits a bit was the recent calamity and super storm Sandy, which had us cancel several classes. We resumed the course, Value Based Customer Service, this week! This one is offered several days during the week. Although they are self contained modules, you get the best benefit if you take all of the courses. The neat thing is you can come to the class or you go online through Ready Talk the number is 3330136 to join in.

The one coming up that I personally find rather intriguing is Negotiating Skills to Influence. How do you influence another person or why do you want to influence them? If you are negotiating with a customer for getting an FRS by a certain day, how do you negotiate that date even though the PM already said it’s going to be delivered on one week, and you know it will take an extra week? How do you go back to the customer? Everything we do is negotiating.

We are also going to be offering Performance Based Compensation which is not just what you get paid but why you get paid, and what other incentives are there besides money. Then, we are going to cap off with Building Champion Teams.

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