(Time to read this Blog article is about 90 seconds)
There’s much 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 1 to 10, with 10 being excellent, how are you doing at each of these…and which of these 11 types of training need to be improved in your business?
- ‘Who we are’ training. Learning our 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. Learning our systems, processes, terms, customer policies, internal policies.
- ‘Product knowledge’ training. Learning the features and benefits of what we sell and our total compelling value proposition. This would typically be for those in sales and marketing…but all employees should have a basis understanding of this. It’s part of their being proud of what we do and their role in it. And, it’s a way of turning all employees into ‘evangelists’ for the company and it’s products and services.
- ‘Skills and knowledge’ training. How to do their current job more effectively and more safely…and why their job is important to the rest of the Team, to the customer, to the environment and to the bottom line.
- ‘Learning new stuff’ training. Learning new technologies, machinery, processes, systems or policies as they’re introduced.
- ‘Growth & development’ training and coaching. This occurs in two time frames:
a) Preparing employees ahead of time for subsequent promotion or increased responsibility. This would include training in managing people, projects, processes and budgets.
b) Training and coaching employees after a promotion or addition of responsibility. No one should ever be promoted or transferred to a different responsibility without a specific training / coaching package. Otherwise, we’re just setting them up to fail.
- ‘Health & Safety’ and ‘Emotionally Safe Workplace’ training. If a business is not a physically and emotionally healthy and safe place to be, nothing else matters. Everyone on our team needs to be aware of, knowledgeable about and constantly reminded of smart health & safety practices and policies and our commitment to an emotionally safe workplace. And, they need to be encouraged to report any physically or emotionally unsafe practices or behaviour.
- ‘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.
- Ongoing communication re, ‘How we’re doing and where we’re going as a business…and why their particular job is important’. This is one of the most important aspects of employee engagement.
- Training to do another job (cross-training) to create a more flexible and efficient workforce, or because their current job will soon become redundant.
- Daily ongoing informal coaching on how to do any aspect of their 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 staff the opportunity to ‘train’ top management about what’s really going on in the company, from their perspective.
This can be done by asking individual employees at all levels for their honest insight as to:
- What do we not do as well as we should? What’s not working so well in the business…and what they suggest we could do to fix it?
- What frustrates them or prevents them from getting their job done effectively…and what they suggest we could do to fix it?
- What frustrates or alienates our customers…and what they suggest we could do to fix it?
- What we could do to help make you more excited to come to work each day?
A second approach to giving your staff (especially front-line staff) an opportunity to ‘train’ top management about what’s really going on in the company, from their perspective is to 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.
Select a few of your top front-line and front-line supervisory people and give them time to put together a one-hour or 90-minute session in which they will give you the wisdom of ‘their truth’ about what’s going on. Do you have guts to give this one a try? You’ll be amazed at what you learn and what needs fixing.
So, there you have it. ‘The 11 faces of training’ and a gutsy bonus suggestion. How will you use these insights to improve your understanding of and commitment to training, learning and people development in your business…and when will you start?