Your staff members are one of the most vital assets your business has, and without them, you would quite literally not be able to function. No matter what role they play, from bringing in customers to making your products to cleaning your offices, their contribution is one of the key factors that determine whether you make it or break it. While this is undoubtedly the case, staff can also be one of the most difficult areas you have to deal with when running a business, because unlike your machinery or your computer systems they are unique individuals with their own outlooks, opinions, strengths, and weaknesses. The welfare of your staff needs to be a priority if they are going to perform at their best, and staff training is one of the core aspects of looking after your staff.
The importance of training
There are several reasons why staff training is so important:
- Without the understanding and ability required they will be unable to do their job properly and safely.
- Everyone who has an existing set of skills and knowledge needs to brush up and learn about new developments during the course of their career.
- Training helps staff to feel valued and respected.
- Training helps identify deficiencies in the workforce and where additional help may be needed.
- You have a responsibility to make sure everyone who works for you operates in a safe, legal and ethical manner at all times.
- Training is essential for staff development, and when you invest in people, they will give more back to the business.
The problem is that although there are some excellent reasons for providing quality training to your staff, it can seem like interference in the most important processes of the business, taking time away from productive activities and thus costing the business money. It can also be quite stressful conducting training sessions and dealing with a collection of people who learn at different rates and in different ways, and who have some very diverse motivations for working for you in the first place.
Look for the positives
Unless you’re planning to fire any of them, you presumably are happy with the work your employees are doing. You should have information in their personal performance review that will remind you what each person contributes, what they are excelling at, and what, if anything, they struggle with doing. Identify the positives and work to improve any problems, and their performance will be greatly enhanced. Focus on appreciating the value they add to your business rather than being vexed by any issues that arise. Think about how you would manage if they weren’t there, and learn to empathize with their situations.
Make your training program an integral part of your business
Don’t just begrudgingly squeeze in the odd mandatory health and safety training session. Your staff deserves respect and attention, and you should set up a training plan for each member of staff based on their appraisal and the requirements of their role. Discuss the training plan with them and the best methods of carrying out training sessions. Encourage them to make suggestions about the vocational training they would like to do. If they are interested in studying for further qualifications that are relevant to their job, be supportive and see how you could help with a contribution towards course fees or study time.
Make training something to look forward to
This is important both for you and your staff. If you can find ways to make training sessions enjoyable as well as instructional, staff will be happier to participate and are far more likely to remember what they’ve learned. There are many ways of delivering training, including:
- Introducing an element of friendly competition – whoever gets the best score in the post-training quiz gets a prize, for example.
- Using different forms of media to convey the message in a more memorable and engaging way, for example hiring Epic Video Factory to make a training film for you.
- Organizing outside agencies to deliver training sessions on specialist subjects for you, such as a professional sales trainer or contacts at the local college.
- Taking the staff for a team-building day. These may have become the butt of a few jokes since their inception, but they do an amazing job of getting the best out of people and teaching them new team skills.
- Make use of the online courses that are available. There are some brilliant free courses run by reputable training organizations, colleges, and universities all over the world. These are known as MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – and they are extremely valuable for adding authority to your training plan.
Learn to love being a trainer
Some bosses avoid giving training sessions on the grounds that they have too much else to do, or it’s not their job. They may hate having to give training themselves because they lack the skills to do it well, or they may simply resent the time and effort it takes to run a successful training session. If you don’t feel very enthusiastic or confident about running training sessions, try and address the issues you have so that you can function more effectively in the role – and learn to enjoy what you’re doing. If you make an effort to learn how to conduct training that your staff enjoys and feel the benefit of, you will enjoy the experience more and appreciate the efforts that have to be made by everyone concerned.
There are three sides to getting the best from your staff training; finding out what each member of staff needs to improve their confidence and performance, improve your own skills in being a trainer, and make use of the many innovative and engaging ways to deliver training. Make staff training a priority and give it the credence it deserves. By taking this critical part of your business seriously, you will have happier, better skilled and more capable staff. It will ensure you have loyalty and respect from your staff and it will help with performance and productivity, which will directly benefit and help grow your business.