With technology changing almost as fast as the speed of light, it’s critical to the growth of your business to make sure that your staff is trained and kept up to date. Since we all are driven to do more with less, the key to success in today’s marketplace is a higher level of competence that can provide greater productivity and efficiency.
We all know that we need to invest in training, but we never seem to have the time or money to make it happen. For new hires, the manager often has the best intentions of following a training program. But the daily schedule overrides and they get too busy to make it happen. Days slip by, weeks and months go by, and then they wonder why the employee still doesn’t get it.
When it comes to our existing staff, training is just as critical as it is for a new hire. Because of the structural changes that have taken place within our industry, doing business as usual will no longer produce the results it once did. Our customers’ needs and wants have changed. Competitive and profitable pricing requires more knowledge of the outside world, new selling techniques are needed, and production skills need to be elevated to keep ahead of the new technologies available.
Investing time and money in training will provide one of the best ROI’s you will get for your business today. By creating a competent, stable, well led workforce, you will gain a huge competitive advantage over your competitor. A Grade AA team will dominate competitors whose employees don’t know what they are doing.
Training can no longer be an afterthought. It must become an integral part of your staffing and business strategy. When it is not properly planned for, any attempt to satisfy a training need will usually result in failure. It is necessary to create a written plan for training.
Step By Step
Establish the training method and create the plan. There are many methods of training: on-the-job training, seminars and conferences, education assistance, mentoring, and coaching. All of these methods have a critical role in the training program. The methods should be selected that best fit the needs of both the employee and the business. There are a few fundamentals of the training plan: the financial budget, the time budget, and who needs to learn what. Clearly, cost is a major consideration. Therefore, it is critical that a strategic plan be put into place and diligently followed.
Before creating any training plans, it is essential that you reevaluate the direction of your business and determine what skills are going to make a difference in your future. What technology has been added or should be added? Are all of the appropriate people 100% knowledgeable and competent in using the technology? Do all of the employees who are pricing and selling the new ways of doing business thoroughly understand them, and is there consistency in the way they are pricing and selling it?
Here are ways to determine what may be needed.
Ask your team. Pull together the key members of the staff and brainstorm what training will enable the company to increase its competitive advantage or move into new niche markets using technologies they are not currently using. Consider those suggestions, but be sure that they fit into your business plan. Such advances may need new techniques that will, in turn, drive new training requirements. This is where it is important to already have your mission and vision statement in place. You need to know where you want the company to go and understand what it will take to get it there in terms of skills and teamwork.
The Job Description. Start with the job description for each function required to reach your new vision. The new job description then becomes an integral tool for developing a training program for each individual.
One caution: If the changes in the job description were planned logically to achieve the workflow in your vision, make sure the employee understands those changes and is competent to perform them or to learn them. Do not find a way to work around an employee who is incompetent to do what needs to be done.
Find out what they want. Along with matching the employee’s current skills with the position, it is also important to understand what training the employee needs. Clearly, the next best opportunity to find out what the employee wants and needs is through a performance appraisal discussion. This is when you can determine what added skills will contribute to performance improvement. But the bottom line is to ask what the employee thinks.
Remember that this training process is definitely an individual program and should be treated as such. Some of these desires may be to position the employee for future growth or for leadership roles. You can also find out what employees may want through surveys, questionnaires, and meetings focused on the subject of training.
Observe. The process of management by walking around (MBWA) puts you in touch with employees in the workplace. Discuss with individuals what they are doing and how they are doing it. Try to determine if added skills or enhanced knowledge would make a difference in their performance. An employee’s morale is dependent on the understanding of his job and the ease with which he accomplishes it. If added skills will make a happier employee, then you are closer to where you need to be.
Self Actualization. Some training does not directly benefit the company, but it will benefit the employees and enable them to feel better about themselves. Often this falls into health and welfare considerations. I am often reminded of the client who paid for one of his employees to attend an exercise class. She felt better about herself for doing it and she was a better employee as a result.
Just Do It!
Training must be a stable, continuous part of your company strategy and growth plans. It must be a key factor in the development and retention of employees. And remember, while there may be costs associated with training, it is less than the cost you will incur if you need to replace an employee who becomes disgruntled by your lack of support to his or her career development.
Now is the time to be proactive in moving you and your staff to the next level. The success of your business depends on it.