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Power Lunch

Training is often overlooked in most businesses. We value education when we hire a new employee but do not continue the education process after the hire. Literature on the best run companies always place training of their staff high on the list of priorities. Losing key employees for a week or two of training, the cost of classes and T&L can be reasons why employers are adverse to training their staff. Another issue is finding the right classes covering the right topics your staff needs to be effective on the job.

Obviously, allowing key employees to attend off-site training classes provides the highest return on investment. It also carries the highest cost. The next rung on the training ladder is to bring the training in-house. This sometimes can be at a lower cost that off-site training. But, off-site training has the advantage of the key employees not being disturbed during the training.

The lowest cost training is what I like to call the “Power Lunch”. By providing your staff training, one hour per week during a lunch hour can provide about 40 hours of training a year. This presupposes that during a 52 week year an employee may have to miss some of the power lunch training session. I would always recommend that a free lunch be provided for the power lunch. Having successfully provided power lunch training sessions, I can attest that providing a lunch improves the attendance of the training session dramatically. The cost of a lunch, like pizza or sandwiches, at $10/employee over 40 weeks comes to $400. This is substantially cheaper than off-site or on-site training for a week.

The advantage of the power lunch, aside from a lower cost, is that the one hour training session can be tailored to exactly what your staff needs to know. I managed a small team of developers and asked them for topics that could be covered in an hour. I received a long list of topics that could be covered in an hour and would bring relevant training to the staff. I then asked the person requesting the training to do the training.

At first, this idea was wildly unpopular. But, as the training sessions continued, it became more popular. The fear of public speaking can be overcome. Who among you would like to have your experts being able to talk in front of an audience with confidence? Also, by preparing the one hour training session teaches the employee more about the subject matter and solving problems in general.

If you have no process in place to continue the education of your employees, I’d like to suggest putting together a power lunch program at your company.

Drumheller Trick

One of the primary developers of what became Prime Information was John Drumheller. I was employed at Prime computer and was introduced to Prime Information. In my work I came across a document that described a method of processing the data in a file using an efficient method that was attributed to John Drumheller. Typically in processing the data in a file you would select the records you wish to process, which requires reading every record in the file. Then you would process those selected records which required a second reading of the records. If your processing touched each record, you would have read each record in the file twice!

The “trick” is to only read the records once. To do this, create a subroutine that can be called from a dictionary record. The dictionary record should always return a false result, either 0 or “”. The subroutine should perform the processing required on the record. Then you can use the LIST command to list the file to be processed with the dictionary record that contains the subroutine. As the LIST command looks at each record, it calls the subroutine, processes the record and since it returns a false, it continues on. When the LIST command completes, it will have processed each record in the file reading the record only once. The result of the LIST command will generate little or no output.

The LIST command would look something like the following.

LIST filename WITH subroutine_dictionary_record

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