A reader writes: "You promote certifications, but I am confused about which applies to me and to my company. Any guidance would be appreciated."

Great question and I will do my best to give you an overview in this brief article. When I address this issue in my workshops I ask how many people in the audience have a driver's license and vehicle insurance. The response is usually close to 100% since that is an expectation in today's society. If a police officer asks for your driver's license and insurance card, they are verifying that you have passed a basic knowledge and skills test that was conducted by an independent third party. The insurance card verifies that you and your vehicle are covered in case there is an accident; thereby protecting you and anyone else involved in an accident.

Certifications serve the same function in that they are designed to verify that you and your company have met minimum standards in your field and are considered "qualified" to conduct business in a given area. As I understand the history of certifications there have been individual certifications provided by associations that go back over fifty years. They required a basic knowledge of the various aspects including custodial skills, chemical and equipment knowledge, hiring/firing, public relations, employee relations and other skill sets. Most of these certifications require at least a written test based on their printed materials and earning such a certification adds status to the individual and their company.

Company wide certifications are relatively new and provide an overall framework of best practices without endorsing a particular product line. Minimum standards require verification of having a training program for front line staff as well as management, a bidding system, quality control, safety programs, equipment and chemical purchases based on green principles. Some customers will not allow a company to bid on their business unless they can provide proof of such certification.

I encourage you to not only pursue individual certifications for your staff as it relates to their functions within the company but I also encourage you to consider a company wide certification that will enable you to conduct an internal analysis and prove through an independent third party that your company meets these minimum standards.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.