Training Your Dream Employees
Once you have landed your dream employees through a rigorous recruitment process, it is essential that you continue to invest in your decision by putting them through a thorough training process.
Training is Important for Employee Retention
Training is actually an element of recruitment. A new employee’s orientation and training set the tone for their entire employment; this includes their impression of your business, its systems, and respect for its leaders. This has an impact on your ability to retain good people and avoid unnecessary or redundant recruitment processes.
Too often, businesses rely on junior employees to train new ones without any guidelines or ‘curriculum.’ New employees are thrown into the deep end without clear expectations or an understanding of ‘how things are done around here.’
Your Leaders’ Involvement in the Training Process
These elements affect how an employee perceives their own required level of effort or performance. A business that doesn’t give much thought to planning, expectations, and preparation will end up showing a new employee that the same lack of attention is expected from them.
Here are some things to ensure you implement when you create your comprehensive training system:
Prior Learning / Existing Knowledge
Acknowledge your new employee’s prior learning, and don’t overestimate or underestimate their existing knowledge.
Choice of Trainer
Make sure the person or people who will be training the new employee are sufficiently qualified and experienced. If an administrator is leading a salesperson’s training and orientation, consider asking another salesperson or more senior team member to assist on specific days or sessions.
Have all the required training materials handy. This includes company manuals, industry guidebooks, common reference materials, work samples and anything else that will aid in the training efforts.
Also, ensure you have the tools available to train your new recruit. Will the training be held at their workstation or another workstation? Do you have all the software you need? All the equipment required? Doing so will ensure the training runs smoothly and the time provided will be used effectively.
Time for Training
Provide more than ample time for training – including time for questions and elaboration. Rushing training benefits no one, including your profits.
Testing to Ensure Mastery
Consider including some ‘tests’ or checks to ensure the new recruit understands each component of the training. Ask the trainer and the trainee to sign-off on each section.
Employees’ Part in the Big Picture
Each team member’s role is part of a larger picture: the company as a whole. Ensure that the trainee understands how their role contributes to the big picture on each level. If they are a junior member of a department, they should understand how their job contributes to the department, as well as how the department contributes to the entire company.
Encourage Employee Feedback
The trainee should be able to ask questions and review information at any time – including after the training process. Create an environment that encourages open dialogue and encourages employees to ask questions when they are unsure of a task.
The other common mistake that many companies make is ending training after the first few weeks of a new recruit’s employment.
Ongoing Employee Training
Training is an ongoing process for every single member of your team, and there should be a system or structure in place to ensure that staff training and development happens on a regular basis. This can include cross-training, employee development, and new systems orientation.
Benefits of Regular Training
Regular training not only benefits your staff and improves their performance, but it allows you – the business owner – to:
• Implement new policies + procedures
• Invest in your staff, thereby improving confidence and morale
• Evaluate staff performance at an individual and team level
• Reward staff based on performance improvements
• Provide a regular arena for feedback and discussion, including positive and negative experiences and issues
One-on-One Training + Evaluation
An effective system of ongoing training is weekly, monthly, or quarterly staff reviews. When conducted one-on-one, this provides a forum for regular communication with employees to review performance and identify areas for improvement. A one-on-one environment will encourage more open and honest dialogue than if the session were conducted as part of a team.
As a business owner, these sessions are valuable sources of information and insight into the strengths, weaknesses, and motivations of your team.
Senior Staff Mentoring Junior Staff
If you have a large staff, consider pairing junior staff with senior staff and establishing mentorship relationships. This is a powerful way to build the synergy of your team and frees you up from weekly meetings with each staff member. Instead, each senior staff member can report back to you on the results of their regular training sessions, and you only need to conduct these sessions with your senior staff.
Team Training Events
Team training events are great team builders and provide insight into how your team interacts as a whole. These can take the form of “lunch and learns”, where senior staff or guest speakers conduct an hour-long session with staff members or more social team-building exercises with a less formal program.
Team training exercises will shed light on the leaders and followers in an organization and bring together employees who may work outside of the office. These can be especially helpful if you and your senior staff do not see the team ‘in action’ on a daily basis.
Keeping Your Dream Employees
Now that you have spent hours of time and potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars recruiting and training your staff, your human resource job is done, right?
I suppose you’ve done what you’ve set out to do: get the right people working for you. But what happens when those people get bored? Or stolen by another company? Or feel they’ve “done all they can do” at your company?
The final step in the overall recruitment process is employee retention. This includes keeping your employees happy, supporting their development, and giving them an incentive to continuously improve their performance.
Your Work Environment
The environment you create for your staff has a huge impact on your employee retention rates. This includes the interior design and layout of your office or business, the lighting, plants, and kitchen amenities available. It also includes the culture of the company – what is the general working atmosphere? Are most people loud? Quiet? Is there a buzz or hum to the office space?
The bottom line is that employees should enjoy and feel comfortable coming to their workplace – they do spend most of their waking hours there.
Spending a little more on comfortable office furniture and amenities like coffee, tea, snacks, and social spaces will go a long way toward keeping your employees happy at work.
Recognition, Rewards, and Incentive Programs
Did you know that many employees place more value on positive public recognition for a job well done than they do on salary?
Recognition and rewards are powerful tools when it comes to keeping employees happy. Positive feedback from those in more senior positions has a higher perceived value than a 3-5% salary increase – and it costs the business little to nothing to implement.
Retaining Your Employees
Incentive programs are a formalized way of rewarding employees for their achievements and successes. Clear targets and milestones are identified, and when an individual or team reach those milestones they are rewarded with bonuses or prizes.
Recognition, rewards, and incentive programs are an important part of employee retention, as well as team building. They will be discussed in further detail in the Team Building chapter.
Professional Development Programs
Another common reason employees choose to leave their positions is professional development. Many feel they need to move to another company in order to develop their careers or gain more responsibility. They may not necessarily dislike their current role, but become bored or stagnated and believe they have ‘done all they can do’ at that particular company.
Keeping good people means providing opportunities for growth and advancement within your company. This benefits the company because you can hire from within, and save money and time on recruiting and training new staff. It also benefits your employee and increases their loyalty toward your business.
Professional development programs are an important part of staff retention – but they are also an important part of business growth and development. A company with staff who are always increasing their knowledge and improving their skills will stay on the ‘cutting edge’ of their industry and have an advantage over the competition.
Ongoing training and development should be a primary focus for any growing business. Here’s why:
• Increases productivity
• Increases staff retention
• Increases workplace safety and morale
• Increases customer service
• Increases sales
Professional development programs typically focus on the big picture ambitions of the company and its staff members. The longer-term goals and career ambitions are recorded and taken into consideration.
Professional development can be easily worked into your ongoing one-on-one training systems. Keep a folder or binder for each staff member that outlines current role responsibilities, short and long term goals, and areas for improvement, and review it during your weekly or monthly meetings. Identify specific areas for growth, and develop plans of action for that growth.
For example, if your marketing assistant wants to grow into a marketing coordinator or manager role, and needs to improve her people management skills, consider putting her through a management course.
Simple System Tools for Employee Retention
Maintaining this program doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task. With some simple system tools and a commitment to regularly scheduled meetings, you can have a clear and effective program for your staff.
• Evolving job description documents to monitor roles, responsibilities, and tasks
• Regular performance evaluations
• Goal planning worksheets
• Continuing education programs at local business schools
• Regular meetings between staff and supervisors
• Rewards and incentives
• Difficult to re-organize
• Best for smaller lists
Finding and retaining employees is one of the most challenging issues that small business owners are facing. Implement these practices and see your business take on a life of its own!
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