By Mark Creedon
Invest in Training
When was the last time you invested in training your team (even a team of one employee)? You need to be constantly reviewing your product, service delivery and how you communicate with your customers and clients. That same innovation mantra applies equally to the people inside your business.
Have you ever dealt with a business and received bad service? It is interesting because if I ever ask that question at seminars or keynote speaking engagements, I am overwhelmed with a resounding yes! What about great service? When was the last time you received that?
However, let’s get back to your poor service experience. When you get poor service, or a bad customer experience do you blame the person delivering it? If you are like the majority of the population, the answer would be yes. And sometimes that is appropriate, but in a good number of cases, that poor service experience can be traced back to poor training by the business owner.
If you currently have a business, how much training of your team do you do? Staying competitive in business requires constant innovation, which is why I mention it so often. But your business can’t be truly innovative if you aren’t committing time and resources to keeping your team innovative as well. Training your team can easily be pushed aside as it competes with everything else you have to do in tour business. Here are some simple steps I encourage my clients to follow to improve training in your business:
- Make a list of the areas you want your team trained in. I always focus on areas such as:
- Customer service
- Product knowledge
- Technical skills
- Management skills (for those in management positions)
- Set up a timetable for the coming 12 months and allocate dedicated time for staff training. Where possible get the team involved either through one- on-one consultation or by holding a team meeting with the specific agenda of designing the team training. Remember the more buy in you get to the training, the more likely they are going to want to participate and the more they will get from it.
- Remember that adults learn and retain more when they are having fun, so try to include some fun elements to the process.
Once you have the topics and the schedule, lock it in and make it happen. If budget permits, engage someone to help you with the training. Your team may hear the same thing you have been saying for some time but take greater notice just because they are hearing from a different voice.
As a coach, I hear that all the time. When I start working with the management team in a business, the Directors will often comment that they have been asking a manager to do a certain thing or to do it a certain way for some time, but when they hear it from me they do it.
I know that can be frustrating but it is a bit of a phenomenon, so my advice is, don’t fight it and find a way to work with it. There are some excellent team trainers available and the cost is often very reasonable. Do some research and see what is available to you and is a good match for your training schedule.
Remember not to just focus on technical skills. Training your people in the “soft” skills such as communication and customer service will reap rewards for your business.
If you have a sales environment and a dedicated sales team, ask them to conduct some sales training for the non-sales team. Remember anyone who has a customer-facing role is in sales so a few extra skills will never hurt. In fact, I have seen quite dramatic results by providing the Administration team with some basic sales training.
Finally, two things:
Don’t treat training as a necessary evil. It ought to be a part of your proactive management of your business. Helping your team to reach their potential in your business can only benefit you. The benefits come from your team being better skilled and providing superior service to your customers and it is also likely to increase your staff retention. Of course, both are excellent outcomes for your business. When I talk to clients about team training, I am often asked, “What if I spend this money on training and then they leave?” My reply is always “What if you don’t and they stay!”
Mark Creedon is the founder of Business Accelerator mastermind by Metropole and business coach to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs – helping them build a true business, not a job.
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