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A Better Way To Effectively Train your Staff

Jonathan Schultz
December 4th, 2017

Remember all the way back to high school or college. If you were like the vast majority of students, you excelled in the subjects that interested you the most.

These are probably also the same subjects that you could answer questions from other students in. You may have been so good at said subject, you could even tutor someone who wasn't as good. When you really enjoy a topic, you will utilize it more, study it more, and even be able to teach it. With this fact in mind, you can help all your employees grow faster, and become more skilled and knowledgeable than you ever thought was possible. In this article we will cover an effective way to leverage your employees best "subjects" to better train, support, and grow your staffs skills.

Ideas That Will Help You Maximize Your Efforts

If you follow the ideas outlined below, you as a leader, will be able to do this, with minimal time investment at no cost to your company. 

Today's company leaders and managers are faced with many obstacles that may prevent training. When asked, "Why don't you conduct more training?" The same answers almost always pop up. "Not enough time!" How could you possibly dedicate 3, 5 or even 10 hours per week to training your employees? After all, you probably already work more hours than you had agreed to when you were hired. You couldn't possibly stop what your doing for that many hours a week to train your staff. I know how many directions a manager is pulled in throughout the day.

Another common problem is, "My staff wont listen, half of them are seasoned veterans who know it all!" This is a common issue, trying to get the veteran who has seen and been through it all to pay attention in training is impossible. My top performers are always to "busy" to sit through a training class. These top performers consistently meet their quotas WITHOUT training, so why would they want to pay attention in a class? The one thing any manager will agree upon is; however, that even a top performing veteran can improve and grow if they choose. Thus, if they were "open" to training, they could hypothetically sell even more, and get even better at what they do.

Money can also be a hurtle for some companies. Many fortune 500 companies will invest millions in training and coaching their executives, managers, and employees, because they know how important training and coaching programs are. However, most companies are on a tight budget and don't have these kind of financial options. Some managers want to train their staff but have NO budget, so hiring an outside company is not even an option.

Yet another challenge to regimented training that a manager may not admit too, or even be aware of, is that the sales people have heard the managers training spiel on each subject already. How many times do you read the same book? How many times do you watch the same movie? Probably not that many times, unless you really like it! I have news, they may not really like your training that much to do it over and over! (Sorry friends) Thus, to expect your employees who have been trained by you once, or twice on each topic already, to learn anything else from your repetitious training doesn't make sense. In fact, if you did any training when they were on boarded, and now expect them to sit through regimented training from you over again, learn more, enjoy it and pay attention, your being unrealistic. Some employees may even be insulted that you would ask them to sit through training on something they feel they have already been taught, or mastered, or that they have learned early in their career. Imagine forcing Bill Gates to do a Windows PC 101 class?

[blockquote-left]This article is not to say that you shouldn't train your staff due to the aforementioned hurtles that can prevent quality training.[/blockquote-left]This article is not to say that you shouldn't train your staff due to the aforementioned hurtles that can prevent quality training. On the contrary, you should find ways to overcome these obstacles, and that's just what this article is about. Companies with ongoing regimented training see massive results, and huge gains in profit. Client satisfaction, market share, and all the other goodies that come from this type of internal growth are abundant with a great training program. So the question now becomes, "How can we implement a training program that is low cost, low time investment, and extremely effective? How can we create training everyone from rookie to veteran can engage in and grow from. How can we stick to a training program without taking the manager or the entire staff off of their duties for long periods of time?"

It was these questions that led me to think long and hard about a way to accomplish this. The short answer to these questions is to ask your staff. That's right, ask THEM! Step one, list every skill or subject your staff should be trained in or should be proficient at. Second, disseminate this list to your staff and have your employees rate themselves in each topic. I prefer a 1 - 10 scale for this. Make sure you let them know what each # means. A 1 means they need severe training in said subject, a 5 means they are proficient but could improve, and a 10 means they could easily train other people on each subject.You will find most of your veterans will give 10's in many subjects. Guess what? You just found your company trainers! [blockquote-right]You will find most of your veterans will give 10's in many subjects. Guess what? You just found your company trainers![/blockquote-right]

The next step in this process is to create what I call a "Training Needs Matrix". You can use Google sheets or excel for this. What I do is list the employees across the top of the columns. Each row on the left has all the potential subjects for each training session. If an employee is a 10 in a subject (and if I agree with their assessment of themselves) I will give them a green box. If they rated themselves between a 1 and a 6. I will give them a yellow mark. If they have never been trained on said subject I will give them a red box. Now I will take the green box employees (the people that fancy themselves a 10) and decide who will teach each class, this is based on who I deem is the best at each subject. I enroll them in doing this by letting them know, they are getting practice at being a manager. Also by helping out the team, there will be more company growth, which will benefit them long term.

Note: If an employee gives themselves a rating on a subject that contradicts what you think about their skill level, they may need coaching around this. I recommend a 1 on 1 coaching session for any employee that believes they are much better at a topic than you do. Furthermore, employees that give themselves a 7, 8, or 9, are also encouraged to attend the training sessions but are not required to go. Again going back to paragraph one, why force someone to attend a training session that may not interest them, that they will not pay attention too or grow from? Everyone who rates themselves 1 - 6 should attend the training session for that subject.

I also must mention, it is up to YOU as the manager, to ensure your "trainers" prepare for the class, and take teaching it seriously. Also you must make sure the training classes take place when they are supposed to, because your employee trainers will not force people into a class room or office to learn from them. Holding everyone accountable to attend the classes will be your job. That being said, all you have to do is make sure all the right people show up! The training will happen, you will be able to stay focused on steering the ship while your 1st mates conduct the classes. Your employees will hear an alternative perspective to the training topic, which will reinforce the things you have taught. This training regiment will not cost your company one dollar. Your employees have decided what they WANT training in, thus their learning will be far more effective. The seasoned veterans who "know everything" will now be teaching and teaching reinforces what they already know and builds more confidence. Confidence will help them sell more in the end and give them leadership skills they will need to get to the next level in their carriers. This also grows team cohesion and stickiness, since your veterans now have a vested interest in the newer employees. Since they have helped shape them, they will actually start to care about the success of their peers. You would be surprised at all the other benefits this type of in house training program has!

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