I have written many articles about successful management techniques and how to get the most out of your team by making them feel like they are part of something larger than just a company. Throughout these articles I have received hundreds of emails explaining specific problematic employees and excuses as to why they could not be managed, let alone productive. While I agree that there are a small percentage of people out there that cannot be taught, trained, or motivated to do anything more than the minimum to sustain their employment, I believe the percentage is very small. When I ask my students, clients, or team members, the question about how many people do they think fit this bill? I usually get numbers like 30% or as high as 60% of people are “useless” or un-trainable in their minds. It has been my experience that the actual number is closer to less than 1%.
Let me explain. I believe that most people in this world want to do a good job and have pride in the work they produce. However, even the best of intentions fall short when specific expectations are not laid out, and the proper training provided. In past articles I have covered in great detail the importance of providing clear expectations so I will not go into that in this article. What I would like to cover is the second most important tool to an employees’ success: Training.
In today’s business world almost every new hire is either thrown into the work pool and expected to sink or swim, or given a week or two of “Training”, and expected to be a productive part of the organization from the start. The problem with this is that even in a very simplistic business structure, it is unlikely for anyone to understand the entire business operation in two weeks, even in the best of circumstances.
In the first example, we throw a new hire into the field and expect results. Even if we have been clear on what our expectations are, there is little chance this new hire can be successful until they have learned all the ins and outs of the company through trial and error. This is expensive to the company, and very frustrating to the new hire. In most cases they will quit or you will fire them and consider them to be a poor employee.
In the second example you offer “training” to the new hire but it usually only consists of the bare minimum needed to function, and is only as good as whomever the “trainer” is and their qualifications. Worse yet, often they are trained by other employees with a huge work load of their own. So the new hire spends most of their time sitting and waiting for the “trainer” to have some free time, or simply just watches the “trainer” and hopes to learn by example.
The issues with both of these methodologies, is that only the top performers in the industry can be successful under these conditions. Thus, the reasons so many people think that there are so few good candidates out there. If we do not set up our new hires for success, then we are the only ones to blame when they do not succeed.
So how do we solve this problem? When you have a new hire start they should be given proper training on how to do their job within the company’s process and procedures. This training should be specific, have a set timeline, and a well defined syllabus. This training cannot be different for each new hire and based solely on the discretion of the trainer. The person training the new hire needs to have the sole focus of preparing the new hire for a long term career within the organization. I know that many companies will argue that they cannot afford this process. They don’t have the time or the money to expend on training. However, if you actually consider how much time and money it takes to hire a new employee; Ads, interviews, application process, testing, background checks, etc… you should start to understand that what you can’t afford is to lose this new hire due to a lack of training.
When CEO’s set up budgets each year very little, if any, money is put into the training budget. On average less than five cents per hour worked. So that means if your company averages 50,000 hours a year, they will only commit $2,500 dollars to training. In this scenario it is easy to see why so many new hires complain about the same thing, no training. You would have a hard time teaching someone how to play a board game for that amount of money, let alone the intricacies of a corporate structure. We need to change our way of thinking and begin to understand that our employees are our most valuable asset, and that we need to invest in them the same way we invest in other parts of our business. Only then will we begin to see the true talent curve of our industry.
So now you have a new hire that has been properly trained. The next step is to keep them trained. Another common misconception is that once someone has been successful they will continue to do so, and they end up being ignored. Training needs to be an ongoing process. Internal processes and procedures are always changing, as is our market, the laws, the customers, etc. We need to keep our team up to date on the latest codes, customer trends, safety issues, customer service practices, and so on. Your employees should receive some kind of training every month. This doesn’t need to be anything more than an hour or two meeting each month. When it comes down to the actual training the important part is to keep your team informed and feeling like they are part of something bigger than a paycheck.
Like I said at the beginning, I truly believe that most people want to do a good job and take pride in their efforts. So we need to spend more time making sure that we are giving our team the proper tools to be successful and take care of our customers. Training is the first step to creating a memorable customer experience. And if you do not provide your team with the proper training, then it is you that let your team and your customers down. Avoid that pitfall by providing a structured training program with ongoing sessions, it will build a stronger team, and will set you apart from your competition and help make your company a true leader in the industry.