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How training can help your business get fitter

Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “for the best return on your money, pour your purse into your head”, meaning that investing in training within a business can generate more than just improved staff morale. A recent survey suggests that only 32% of all businesses provide regular training for their staff, and concludes that ‘lack of development opportunity’ is rated as one of the highest reasons behind job dissatisfaction, and ultimately people leaving their jobs.

A structured training programme has many benefits. We can all see those when we relate to our personal lives…..we feel stronger, healthier, more energetic. We potentially sleep better and we may even lose weight, if that is one of our goals. So why do only 1 in 3 businesses take ‘training in the workplace’ seriously? Think of the benefits – better product knowledge, more confident staff, staff becoming multi tasked, better staff engagement, better productivity and opportunities to ‘develop and promote’ from within. What is there ‘not to like’ here?

The key to any effective training programme is ‘discipline’. Commit to a programme and communicate to the staff what you are looking to achieve, and by when. Invite ideas and feedback. Start by creating a matrix and asking staff to ‘score themselves’, on a scale of 1-5 to assess where they might see their training needs. This can be extended to where they see their ‘development’ opportunity and thereby you can create a ‘succession planning’ tool through your training programme.

The training must be relevant to the business and it must make the member of staff feel valued, engaged and energised upon completion. Include regular updates in your 1:1 meetings and maintain the momentum.

You may look to appoint ‘training ambassadors’ to take ownership of certain areas of the training eg a new product, a new sales enabler or a new customer welcome pack. Make it relevant, and make it ‘fun’…..the best sessions I have been involved in always have ‘laughter as well as learning’, that way, the staff will want to come back for more!

Look to reinforce the importance of training to the business. Demonstrate and celebrate how your business ‘is getting fitter’, maybe through the number of staff who can now handle certain types of customer enquiry, or work a machine or a till. It’s about recognising the ‘key successes’ and linking these back to the training programme. Include a question about the quality and relevance of the training programme in the staff Engagement Survey (if you don’t have one of these…why not design one?).

You will want to engage and recruit the right trainer….it may be a member of the in-house team, it may be an external provider. Bringing an external perspective into a business can have obvious benefits and I have found that in the ‘customer service, first impressions’ and ‘developing high performing teams’ space, both the business owner and the staff have gained insights and understanding that have added value to them personally and also the business. Have a look at my website to see some examples of how a bespoke training programme can help you, your business and your team.

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Steve is a regular contributor to B2B publications, see some of his recent articles for insights into current business news, leadership and much more...