Training my team? Did I hear you correctly? Sweetheart I'm barely making payroll!
That was the response I got from a small businessman when I told him he needed to develop his people.
And I totally get that.
You see, I know that developing your team is not even on your radar far less in any of your budgets. I also know that you're afraid of what will happen to your business if you spend too much on training staff which will eventually leave you.
So you “forget” about training and continue to run your business with a set of "lazy, unproductive and uncaring people." Your words, not mine!
But I want you to think about the following:
- In order to grow your business quickly and efficiently, you need a team of employees who are trained to meet the needs of their jobs and of your business.
2. If you're afraid of growing people who will leave your business, you should be equally afraid of the backlash of NOT training them and they remain in your business.
3. You can offer training and wide business experience as incentives to attract talent, since you might be unable to offer the pay and benefits which bigger businesses can offer.
Now that I have your undivided attention...here's the good news for you.
You can definitely develop yourself and your team and get the results you want, if you take the right approach, which begins even before any training.
Well, I've got your back...
Here are 5 strategies you can use to lay the foundation for any training you decide you need for your business.
1. Link your training to your business goals/strategies
Consider this scenario...
You have finally decided that you're going to train your staff and you want to do it the right way. So, you survey your employees asking them questions like:
- What do you think you should learn?
- Which courses would you like to attend?
- Will these improve your job performance?
You then happily pass this information to the Training Provider to design and deliver the required programme.
So why are you not satisfied?
After all, your employees have been trained, there is some improvement in their skills and even in their attitude. So what's the problem?
I know...you cannot see the growth in your business that you anticipated the exercise would bring.
And here's why. Small businesses do not have the luxury of training just for the sake of it. Yes, hiring the right people and developing them does help in increasing the job knowledge and skills of your employees. But you want them to also improve your bottom line results.
In order to link your training to your bottom line results, you first have to understand your business model. In other words, you have to be clear on how your business makes money. Then you have to be clear on your business goals and strategies.
In this way, you can collaborate with the Training Provider to design programmes that not only develop your employees but are also linked to your business goals and strategies.
2. Make sure that the training addresses the context of the job
Let’s face it.
Your training budget is either non-existent or very small but you want to develop your employees. So what do you do? You look for a public workshop or a generic, topic-related programme, which on the surface, has the potential to solve your problem.
Not so fast...
Let's look at this a little closer and I want to use customer service as my example.
Customer service is not customer service is not customer service. It is not the same for a small enterprise as it is for a big corporation. It’s not the same for the hotel industry, the retail industry or the construction industry.
How effective then, would a generic programme called “Customer Service” be to any or all of these? The answer is emphatically “not very!”
What can you do instead?
You can analyse your staff development needs within the context of their jobs. In this way, any programme you have developed or have your staff attend, would more closely match the context of the jobs of your employees.
I know what you're thinking...I don't have the time or money for this...and my business is too small, anyhow!
And you might be right.
But if you are too small and cannot afford the cost of such training, you can collaborate with several businesses which are similar to yours. In this way you can reach the numbers that will make the training viable and spread the costs.
Go ahead and try it.
3. Understand the nature of the problem/issue you're fixing
Unfortunately, many employers and too many training providers believe that every and any workplace problem can be fixed by training. Let me guess, you're one of them. But you're so wrong.
Some problems require a coaching solution. Some can be directly linked to the systems that are used by the business and in some instances, it could be a case of poor recruiting, that no amount of training will solve,any time soon.
What would be your best approach?
Working with your Corporate Trainer or Service Provider, you should probe deeply into the nature of your problem by answering questions like:
a) Is there a gap because employees don’t know how to do the required work or because they don’t want to?
b) Is there a gap because there is no recognition for performing well and/or no consequence for not performing as required?
c) Are your employees intellectually/physically capable of doing the work?
d) Do your employees already have the job knowledge and just need the right attitude to complete the work?
e) Are your employees positive about their work and intellectual/physical capable of doing the job, but need training to go to the next level?
f) Are you ready to reinforce new behaviors?
You should answer these questions as honestly and completely as you can. Then the answers should be thoroughly analysed because then, and only then, you will know if you have a training need or not.
4. Do not use training as a punishment
Don’t pretend now…you do know what I mean. You don’t? Let me explain.
First let’s define punishment in the context I am referring to.
It can be described as a course of action, that is taken after some undesired behavior, which is designed or intended to reduce or eliminate that unwanted behavior.
Now consider the following scenario.
A group of unhappy workers complain to you about some unsatisfactory working conditions. You are seething and demand to know exactly what they want. Like a well-trained choir they declare “training!”
You contact the next available Training Provider and request that they provide “training” not exceeding $X-amount because that is all you’re going to spend on these ungrateful employees!
At the end of this much anticipated event, your employees are frustrated because they might not have acquired the skills they need. You are annoyed because you paid for training for who you now call “hard-headed, ungrateful” employees.
The training provider is resentful because (s)he delivered training to the client’s requirements and is now hearing that the programme was ineffective.
What went wrong here?
I's obvious that you were spending money on training in the wrong frame of mind and for the wrong reason. Punishment is never a reason to engage in staff development.
5. Learn how to select a Training Provider
The Training Provider is critical to the success of the design and delivery of your training and what happens after.
So if your approach to selecting one is by having a conversation like “…well Company A has quoted me $X so if you can give me a quote like ahmm…$X-Y I’d be happy to give you the job…”
Can this approach guarantee you the results you want? My experience says “NO!”
You need a Provider that will work with you to determine your staff training and development needs. These need will be based on a number of factors, including your business strategies and goals, the context of the job and how comfortable you are managing change.
To guarantee this, I encourage you to ask potential Service Providers questions such as those I encourage my potential clients to ask me.
Here are some of them:
1. What results have other clients had from your programs?
2. How are your programs different from those offered by other private and tertiary training providers?
3. How can you help us choose the right program?
4. What kind of materials do you provide?
5. How much experience delivering training do you/your instructors have?
6. May we talk with the instructor(s) before the training?
7. How will you help us to get participant buy-in?
8. How will you ensure that what is learnt in your classroom shows up in our workplace?
If you follow this example and think of questions of your own, it is guaranteed that you will find the right match, almost 100% of the time.
Your next "small budget" training step...
I have laid out for you, 5 strategies you can use to get the best training for your small business...even if your budget is small or non-existent.
I have every confidence that you will use these strategies to improve your staff, improve yourself and make your business attractive to potential investors.
Why am I so confident?
Because I live and work among you. I know that in the face of new and practical information, you can pivot and make the right decisions.
I also know that you're tired of throwing "training" mud on walls and watching it seldom stick. You want to stop feeling so ashamed of putting out money and effort for staff development, and not getting the desired results.
If you implement these strategies, you will take the guess-work out buying training. You will never again have to suffer the shame of spending money to develop your staff, and have your efforts completely miss the mark.
So...why wouldn't you embrace and implement them?
To your newly trained employees...