One of a company’s greatest assets is its employees. Training an employee is one of the foremost factors that must be put into force in a business. Huge companies spend billions of dollars on training per year – to make sure their employees are trained to perfection to produce the best results in the workplace. They successfully train great employees.
Unfortunately, a small business does not spend (even proportionally) anywhere near that level. The challenge, whether large or small, is to ensure that the training ‘sticks’. However, not too much of these training actually help the employees. Much of it is wasted.
To train the employees well and make sure they showcase their best potentials in the workplace is primarily the responsibility of the business owner. However, to train them alone is not enough. There needs to be a follow through and support to ensure that the provided training achieves results and is effective.
Let’s take a look at how one can successfully train great employees; from ‘average’ to ‘great’:
Teach skills instead of traits:
Do not try to change the personality of your employee, focus more on training certain skills that you can teach your employee that they will learn.
For instance, you are responsible for dealing with an employee who is an onsite tradie whose job is to go on customer calls. Now, the employee is naturally shy and introverted, don’t convince him/her to become more talkative or extroverted (that is his/her trait), so that you can sell. What you can do is train them to become better listeners and make use of terminology that will be easy for the customer to understand, both of which are skills.
Teach what is appropriate:
Teach skills to employees that you know will produce substantial results, within the description of the employee’s job. Every department within the business will require different skills to master perfection in their job. It is your duty as the business owner to teach the specific department specific skills.
Let’s look at an example of a typical sales team that comprises hunters – those who find new businesses and farmers – those who develop the existing accounts. It would be a waste of time and money to train everyone on the sales team on how to fetch new businesses as this training can be limited to the hunters only. Whereas training in other skills like account management can be tailored for the farmers.
Support and strengthen the skill:
Once you train your employees, make sure you provide them with many opportunities to test these skills. This will help you rightfully evaluate how well your employees have benefitted from the training. Moreover, you can provide coaching as needed for the employees who haven’t trained well enough.
To learn a new skill may be challenging, especially if it means one should give up an existing skill. This is essentially difficult and of course, most people really don’t like change that much. Thus, coaching is a way to slowly reinforce a certain skill and replace previous habits.
Implement skill-based metrics:
Once you have trained your employees about the skills, it is extremely important that you measure the results of the learned skill. This will help you understand whether the applied skill has actually impacted the work process or not, and by how much.
For instance, if you provide training on few aspects of the sales process, you should find basis for the conversion rate at this stage of the sales process, rather than just measuring the quarter-end revenue. This will help you evaluate the skill you provided better and determine where you are losing your leads; perhaps more training (or system improvement) is required.
Constantly measure the progress:
You should make sure you consistently measure the progress. If you do not receive the expected results, then there is something definitely wrong, and you should figure out what is going wrong. You can provide more coaching to your employees. There could be only one of two problems – either you haven’t trained the right skill or you have not been providing enough reinforcement and coaching and encouragement.
Keep it short:
Plan your training programs to make sure that they are concise and to the point. Make sure that during the training, your employees can absorb as much information as possible and it is not something they take for granted. Don’t flood them with too much information as they might not take away anything from the training at all then. Ensure training is in a suitable environment (not the middle of a busy office), that people are not interrupted (no phones, including a receptionist having to run out every few minutes to man reception) and ensure it occurs when people are fresh – often mornings are ideal.
Have trainings at regular times:
Training is said to be far more effective when it is done in regular times instead of having sporadic trainings at random times. Regular trainings give employees time to prepare themselves beforehand and be ready to absorb all the information. This also makes it much easier for the employees to add the training to their timetable, thus making it less stressful for them and ensuring they attend. It’s difficult to say to an employee to cancel a very important client appointment to attend training as their training IS very important too. Regular training also allows for the intake of small amounts of information which can be digested; rather than trying to cram everything into one or two random sessions.
Make your training sessions interactive. At the end of every training segment, encourage your employees to ask questions. Provide informative answers and speak respectfully to the employees. Spare time at the end of the training to allow for one-to-one question answering with employees who may be hesitant to ask publicly. Involve them in the learning; usually by participation. Most people learn through doing, so having activities and participation will help improve the learning process.
Providing slide notes to your employees before the training begins can prove to be very helpful for your employees as they can make notes during the presentation and follow along. It will also be helpful for the employees as they can refer to their notes later on. Encourage staff to keep notes; few of us have a photographic memory; notes help reinforce the learning and make excellent reference tools.
Training improves our staff’s skills, which in turn will improve our sales, customer service and delivery. These improvements in turn will improve our bottom line. It is critical we look after, value and grow our greatest resource; as great employees are a huge factor in a business’ success.