Small Business Advice
Training staff is the key to success
"Train everyone lavishly, you can't overspend on training." ~ Thomas J. Peters
Training is one of those things that managers frequently cut when dollars and resources are scarce. However, I believe regular training is so necessary if employees are to remain current and effective in their job requirements. It is up to each manager to ensure their staff is getting the training they need to be successful in their current position as well as in future assignments.
Sometimes managers just fail to see the benefits of training. In addition to creating a more skilled workforce, providing training opportunities sends the message to your staff that you value them because you are investing in their potential.
In order for a training program to be successful, three components are required. First, trainees must be held accountable for the material. Take for example customer service training. If the staff does not perform as they were trained, there must be consequences.
A second requirement for a successful training program is that you have buy-in from your management team. When training works, management needs to be there to reward and reinforce. For example, if training dealt with handling customer complaints, management must be on the lookout for staff who is doing a good job so they can reward them in some way.
Finally, training must be continuous and repetitive. The objective of most training is to change behavior in some way, and we all know behaviors are not changed in one workshop or lecture. If I am asked to address a management or customer service issue by giving one seminar, I typically say no. I just know their money will be wasted because there is no way I can achieve the behavior change they want in one talk. Changing behavior requires constant coaching.
Another thing to consider for your training program is the delivery method. You could have an instructor stand up and lecture your staff, but I find this method to be one of the least effective. It is just hard to hold people’s attentions this way. I know my mind starts to wander after about five or 10 minutes of sitting and listening to a speaker.
I prefer training methods that allow interaction and hands-on learning. Depending on the type of material the firm is trying to cover, I often recommend role playing.
Role playing is great and very effective because the staff member has to demonstrate his or her mastery of the subject matter in front of the class. More than just telling the class how to deal with a difficult customer, for instance, role playing allows them to learn by doing, which really helps the material become ingrained in each student.
Of course, offering training is not free, but you should not be afraid to shell out for the best people you can afford. You pay for what you get, so it is generally not advisable to hire the trainer who comes at the lowest cost. As important as training is to the success of your organization, this is not the place to skimp.
Now go out and make sure you have a training plan for your business. And remember that the content of your training program should tie back into the mission of your firm or organization.
You can do this!
Jerry Osteryoung is a consultant to businesses - he has directly assisted over 3,000 firms. He is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University. He was the founding Executive Director of The Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. His newest book co-authored with Tim O'Brien, "If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book," is an Amazon.com bestseller. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.