As Richland College instructor Angie Whitney began to wrap up her customer service class at the City of Garland Unified Learning Center, she asked each of the 25 students in her class that day to tell her what each took away from the session.
Answers ranged from better ways to phrase questions to customers, to nonverbal cues to look for, to even that common sense is not universal.
“Common sense only makes sense to whom it is common to,” Whitney replied to the student.
Whitney is one of several Richland College corporate trainers participating in a collaborative effort between the college and the City of Garland. The end goal is to provide comprehensive, real-world training to city employees that will equip them to serve more efficiently the surrounding community and Garland residents.
“Richland College Garland Campus has become a full-service training provider for several area cities and many corporate clients, and we go to great lengths to make sure we provide the highest quality instructors to our clients,” said Konley Kelley, assistant dean of corporate services at Richland College Garland Campus.
The City of Garland’s relationship with Richland College is based on an expectation that the college will offer the top-level instruction upon which it has built a reputation, and as such Richland College has become the city’s “go-to” resource for training on a variety of subjects. According to Susan Fair, City of Garland’s workforce engagement and development administrator, students have also come to expect a high level of training and mutual understanding with Richland College instructors.
“Students look at the instructors as if they’re city employees, which in a way they are,” said Fair. “And there is a camaraderie and trust factor that goes with that.”
Richland College courses offered to City of Garland employees include Ethics for Municipal Government, Business Writing, Command Spanish, Computer Skills, Managing to Lead and Customer Service. Richland corporate trainers Elke Brautigam; Tim Colman; Hamaria Crockett, Ph.D.; Karen Hettish and Whitney teach these classes.
“All of our instructors are contributing to the success of this partnership,” said Kelley. “They all have huge, well-attended classes and are creating an impact with the different topics they are teaching.”
Whitney and the other instructors often receive feedback from students about how much they are learning in the classes taught by Richland College instructors and that word is spreading among employees that the training is truly valuable in the workforce. For instance, some employees with the Garland Senior Center realized that some of the paperwork was not serving the seniors very well. Because of the customer service training they attended, the employees worked to modify the paperwork in a way that made it better and easier for their clients, the seniors, to understand.
“By going through the customer service class, the impact was they modified their data to better suit the customer, which in the end is who the data are for,” Whitney said.
Over the past few years, the partnership between Richland College and the City of Garland has seen tremendous growth, with four to six classes each month serving City of Garland employees.
“We have to keep training real, relevant and fun in order for it to stick,” said Fair. “This isn’t old school anymore. My job with the City of Garland is to make sure people are prepared in their roles. Everyone is a leader in his or her job. We make decisions, and we need outcomes every day.”
“This has been a deep, solid partnership, and I love that this training is a priority for this city. This is what the City of Garland is all about,” Konley concluded.
Richland College Garland Campus is an award-winning community campus focused on workforce training and development. Training is provided for individuals who are entering the workforce for the first time or for those currently employed who want to enhance their skill sets. For more information, visit richlandcollege.edu/garlandcampus.