Some of the biggest issues facing many business owners revolve around their employees. It’s not unusual to hear many business owners ask the questions:

  • How do I find the best people for my business? When I find them, how do I get the best from them?
  • When I do get the best from them, how do I make sure they don’t leave?
  • If they leave, how do I make sure they don’t end up working for my competition?
  • If they do end up working for my competition, how do I make sure they don’t steal clients or other employees?

The list can go on and on.

One of the most important but often overlooked areas for the average small-medium sized business owners are the areas of staff training and staff development.

This blog sets out to explain the importance of both in your business as well as:

  1. Initial training
  2. Ongoing training
  3. One-on-one training
  4. Team training
  5. Telephone
  6. Internet
  7. Developing your staff

Initial training

Assuming you have put your new staff member through a rigorous selection process and you have recruited a talented individual with ambition, the way this person is now handled during the initial training period will go a long way towards determining how they will turn out for the life of their employment with your organisation.

The first seven days a new employee spends with your company will set the standard for how that employee views the business, as well as determining how this person will view their required level of performance.

Too many businesses don’t handle the initial training of new staff members anywhere near as well as they should. Below is a list of common mistakes made by a number of organisations.

  • Inadequate training facilities
  • Lack of appropriate training and reference materials
  • Person conducting the training often not sufficiently qualified/experienced
  • Training rushed in order to fit in with other priorities
  • Lack of testing of trainees’ understanding
  • Too much assumption of prior learning
  • Too little recognition of prior learning
  • Training often compartmentalised (i.e. the trainee doesn’t understand the BIG picture).

Ongoing training

During the initial training period it should be made very clear to the new recruit that Staff Training is a continuous and never-ending process within your business. A properly structured, weekly training program allows the business owner to:

  • Evaluate performance of the individual and the team
  • Review the previous week’s results while they’re still relevant
  • Provide rank, recognition, prizes and bonuses if relevant
  • Implement new initiatives
  • Improve staff morale
  • Increase staff loyalty
  • Lower staff absenteeism

It’s a fact that many people don’t seek out higher learning. So conducting regular staff training will allow the business owner to stay in control of the learning process while at the same time, fostering goodwill among staff. It will also provide a forum where questions can be answered and staff grievances can be aired. This is an important point as many staff members can become disgruntled without regular contact, so weekly training can nip potential problems quickly.

If your business is one where your employees are in regular contact with your clients, a sales business for example, you should seriously consider holding daily meetings. However, for a lot of businesses this may be overkill; in this case, having at least a Monday morning and Friday afternoon meeting is a must.

One-on-one training

This is a very effective way for the business owner or manager to accurately pinpoint exactly where each staff member stands in relation to their desired state of development. Some other benefits:

  • Provides a forum for each staff member to discuss specific issues relevant to that particular individual
  • One-on-one is the right environment to criticise or question an individual’s work effort or results
  • It is the best way to conduct performance reviews and set new targets
  • It is a more concentrated environment, thus allowing for improved rapport-building opportunities.

Team training

In many organisations it’s more practical to run training sessions in a group to create a positive dynamic. Some of the other benefits include:

  • Group interaction allows the business owner to identify leaders and followers
  • Allows for a variety of training methods. For example, Round Robin/Give and Take, etc.
  • Easier to motivate a group due to multiple energies
  • Can set team targets and team incentives

Online store facility

Another often underutilised method of training staff is via the telephone. For staff who are on the road or who don’t come intothe office, this can be a great way to keep in contact as well as stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the field. A lot of companies are now using conference call facilities to run training sessions and launches. This can be a very cost-effective way to run your team. Early morning breakfast calls are a great way of launching daily competitions and firing up your team.

Internet training

Due to the ever-increasing popularity of the Internet, many organizations are now exploring this medium as a low-cost way to not only communicate with their staff, but also to run training sessions and numerous other initiatives.

Developing your staff

Assuming you have recruited your staff well and provided them with a structured and comprehensive initial and ongoing training program, all that’s left now is to focus on staff development.

What is staff development?

Staff development revolves around identifying the performance ‘gaps’ of your various staff members, understanding the prevailing reasons for the gaps and then implementing initiatives and programs to eradicate them.

Why do it?

Developing your people and taking them to the next level of their professional growth is one of the most important and productive pursuits of any business owner. Listed below are some of the reasons why it should be a major focus.

  • Produces greater productivity
  • Will help generate improved customer service and sales
  • Will help lower staff turnover and, therefore, recruiting costs
  • Will help improve workplace safety
  • Improves morale
  • In many instances, it’s a legal necessity

Any business owner who sets out to develop their staff will be rewarded by the improved performance of these people. It simply requires a disciplined approach.

Do I need to do it?

  • Do you want to increase sales?
  • Do you want to improve customer service?
  • Do you want a more loyal workforce?
  • Do you want to lower absenteeism?
  • Do you want to reduce workplace theft?
  • Do you want to reduce workplace accidents?
  • Do you want a better work environment?
  • If so, then the answer has to be, “Yes!”

How do I begin?

Staff development should be a key section within your business plan. Each staff member (including yourself) should have a personal file outlining their job description, ambitions, training needs along with any other relevant information pertinent to their current skill levels and relevant to the skills which need to be improved on. Each staff member should have their performance reviewed at regular intervals and a reward mechanism should be linked wherever possible.

What tools are available?

Implementing effective staff development programs isn’t difficult if the correct tools are available. Some of the tools at your disposal are:

  • Honest and open two-way discussion
  • Job description – written and agreed
  • Performance evaluation systems
  • Training – at the workplace and/or externally
  • Literature and information
  • Demonstrations
  • Reward and incentive systems
  • Career planning and personal growth
If you would like any initial advice on this, please give us a call on 07912143040