UCC, ADT talk on training Millennials

ESX panel focuses on new central station operators
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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

BALTIMORE—Underlining the important work that central station operators do is key when training Millennials who are now entering the workforce and the security industry, according to panelists at ESX.

"[New central station operators] need to understand the value of their work as well as the responsibility they are given," Mike Lamb, United Central Control’s VP and project director, said. This shouldn’t be hard, he said, when being a central station operator means protecting lives, homes and personal property.

When trainees understand the importance of their work, it leads to professionalism.

Stephen Smith, ADT’s national professional development manager, who also spoke on the panel, said new training methods are needed for the Millenial, or Generation Y, workers, which includes those born 1980 to 2000.

Predominant learning styles have changed over time, Smith said. Kinesthetic learning style—understanding through practice and “doing”—is less prominent today.. Auditory learning has dropped slightly. A preference for visual learning has greatly risen.

Honesty and timely feedback is important. “You're just doing them a disservice by not giving them that feedback early. … Be completely honest with them, [sometimes saying] 'you may not make it through training,’" Lamb said.

Younger operators view supervisors more as peers, Lamb said, and trainers taking breaks with their students can enhance that peer environment.

Millenials want to know the “why” of things, he said. Supervisors should not perceive a “why?” question as disrespectful, but instead, as the trainee looking to gain deeper understanding of their work.

If trainers or supervisors need to micromanage, that could be a sign of not having the right people for the jobs, he said.

In an interview with Security Systems News after the panel, Lamb said that UCC was already prepared for Millennial applicants. “We’ve always had a team environment [at UCC],” and the newer generations have been really embracing that, Lamb told SSN.

Lamb said that trainers have liberty in their training styles. "I don't care how you get there, as long as [trainees] know procedures, the end results the same, and [the trainees] need to be comfortable with their job,” he told SSN.

He said that 40- to 50 percent of the applicants UCC gets for operator positions come from that Generation Y, but the proportion could be higher in other areas. Speaking generally on Millenials, Lamb said, “I think they bring enough positives. ... I'm hopeful for the future."