The many faces of training
There’s a lot of talk in business today about the importance of initial and on-going training, coaching and employee development and so there should be. You can’t grow your business without growing your people.
To truly embrace a program of ongoing employee education and development, keep in mind that there are many different kinds of training. Below is a partial list. On a scale of one to ten – with ten being excellent – how are you doing at each of these? Which areas need to be addressed?
- ‘Who we are’ training – this is learning about the company’s history, culture, values, standards, vision, commitments and achievements. This is most important for effectively on-boarding new employees but should be reinforced on a regular basis.
- ‘How we do business’ training – this is learning about the company’s our systems, processes, terms, customer policies, internal policies.
- ‘Product knowledge’ training – this is teaching the features and benefits of what the business sells and its compelling value proposition. This would typically be for those in sales and marketing but all employees should have an understanding of this. It’s part of their being proud of what the company does and their role in it.
- ‘Skills and knowledge’ training – this is about how to do their current job more effectively and safely.
- ‘Learning new stuff’ training – this about how to use new technology, machinery, processes, systems and policies as they’re introduced.
- ‘Growth and development’ training – this is about preparing employees for promotion and increased responsibility. This would include training in management skills and processes as well as people management skills. No one should ever be promoted or transferred to a different responsibility without a training package. Otherwise, you’re just setting them up to fail.
- ‘Attitude adjustment’ training – this is generally for employees who are exhibiting some kind of inappropriate or toxic behaviour. Topics could include diversity, bullying, gender respect, anger management or the importance of our standards of performance, appearance and behavior.
- ‘How we’re doing and where we’re going as a business…and why their particular job is important’ training – this is one of the most important aspects of employee engagement.
- ‘Training to do another job’ (cross-training) – this should be used to create a more flexible and efficient workforce, or because a current team member’s current job will soon become redundant and he or she will need to be moved to another position.
- Finally, there’s daily ongoing informal coaching on how to do any aspect of the job more effectively in a way that instructs, grows, encourages and engages employees to be more effective and to prepare for more or different responsibility.
Bonus note: There’s one more type of ‘staff training’ that nobody talks about. That’s the one where you give your front-line staff the opportunity to ‘train’ top management about what’s really going on in the company from their perspective. Select a few of your top front-line people and give them an opportunity to put together and deliver a presentation on what they believe could be improved in the areas of the customer experience, employee safety, efficiency, communication, policies and processes, facilities and working conditions. As the boss or owner, do you have guts to give this one a try? You’ll be amazed at what you learn and what needs doing.