How to Accelerate (and Reap the Benefits of) Enhanced Employee Training

employee training

Employee development used to be a luxury businesses could indulge in, if and when they had the resources for training. That’s no longer the case. To maintain a competitive edge in today’s marketplace, employers simply must put a priority on building the skills sets of their workforce, if only to contend with ever-constant changes in both technology and market conditions.

If you’re looking to accelerate the quality of employee development within your organization, here are several tips to keep in mind:

A commitment to development begins at the top. Sometimes employees are sent the message that training is all-important, but then they see little participation or support among senior management. This disconnect can weaken an employee development initiative right from the start.

“Executive buy-in is essential, and training programs can flourish when upper management recognizes the value of training, provides support, and participates in creating concrete objectives,” writes HR expert Steve Rossetti. Never forget, he adds, “that senior management are employees, too.”

If you’re a TAB Member (or thinking of becoming a TAB Member), you’re already demonstrating a commitment to developing your own skills—a point well worth making as you bolster your employee training program.

Make training a regular part of each employee’s work schedule. A one-time “training event” rarely delivers much return on investment, experts say. It’s more efficient to establish a schedule of ongoing development workshops or classes, because (a) this sets up the expectation and understanding among employees that training is a key part of their job responsibilities; and (b) continuous training reinforces key lessons and makes far more of an impact than any once-a-year or semi-annual event.

Offer a range of learning options. Training is not the type of program that succeeds with a “one-size-fits-all” structure. Obviously, employees (like anyone else) learn at their own pace—not to mention having different workloads and job responsibilities—so it’s more effective to provide flexible learning options, including mobile and on-demand opportunities for training that better fit their schedules and ability to absorb new information.

This is particularly important, considering an average workplace might have as many as five different generations of employees working there. A serious commitment to development involves recognizing how different generations best absorb new information (millennials, for example, expect training to incorporate mobile devices as part of the learning process), in order to succeed.

If all this sounds like a significant expenditure of time and resources, remember the benefits your organization will reap with an effective employee development program:

Aids in recruitment and retention. The ability to acquire knowledge and further one’s career through training is a powerful recruitment and retention tool. Higher-quality job candidates will look more closely at your company if they see a genuine commitment to training built into your culture. In this way, your business can emerge as an employer of choice in the hunt for new, high-quality job candidates.

Builds a cadre of potential leaders. Employees who might otherwise be “stuck” in their positions can, through proper development, emerge as authentic leaders in their own right. In this way, you’re gaining a talent pool of potential team leaders and managers—a significant benefit, when you consider all the effort required to look outside the organization for such individuals.

Keeps your focus on the future. Employee development necessarily centers around changes in meeting customer needs and adapting to new conditions in the marketplace. This focus on what lies ahead benefits everyone in the organization—from HR and marketing to IT and sales. It keeps everyone on their toes and looking ahead, rather than backward at “what worked in the past.”

Companies that go beyond paying lip service to employee development reap the benefits of this type of initiative. Don’t overlook the value of a skilled, learning workforce as a key ingredient towards the growth of your business.

Want more advice on employee development or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

How to Build More Efficiency into Your Business

business efficiency

“How do I make my business more efficient?” is a question business owners or CEOs might ask themselves every day. While what constitutes “efficiency” might differ from one industry to the next, generally speaking, an efficient business is one that manufactures (and/or distributes) the products it sells without excessive cost, effort or waste. The result of this focus on efficiency means such businesses can afford to deploy greater resources for growth-related operations (including research and development) while keeping expenditures down and profits high.

So how can you go about building more efficiency into your business? As any TAB Business Owner Advisory Board member might tell you, look first into your own style of working and leadership (and then the rest of the business):

Get out of “reactive” mode. Too many CEOs waste valuable time and energy focusing on tasks that are urgent, but not important. “Putting out fires” shouldn’t be at the top of your job description.

Improving efficiency begins by looking closely at “where you’re losing time,” but this requires that you acknowledge “when you’re being stubborn and when you’re refusing to let go of the reins.” In other words, start delegating today.

Never hold a meeting without a specified purpose and time-limit. By and large, company meetings are inefficient. Leaders call them for vague reasons, inviting too many (and therefore, the wrong) people, and no one dares suggest the meeting should end sooner, rather than later.

Look at the possibility of convening a 15-minute “meeting of the day” where employees and/or managers can quickly describe their current work situation and then release people to go do their jobs.

Get rid of obstacles to communications. Often in a large company, there’s no centralized method for sharing valuable information, due to silos or independent divisions. Smaller businesses aren’t immune to communications obstacles either, particularly if the company culture doesn’t encourage people to share news and insights that might make overall operations more efficient.

With modern technology, there’s no excuse for not keeping everyone in the loop. Whether through video conferencing software or cloud-based intranets, don’t sacrifice efficiency due to miscommunication or other related issues.

Pay attention to employee morale. Happy employees are generally more productive and efficient employees. When you go to the trouble of hiring smart, talented people, it only makes good business sense to see that they’re well compensated, enjoy industry-standard benefits and have continuous opportunities for development.

Explore outsourcing options. Your business is very good at making and/or delivering a product or service to customers. It may not be particularly efficient in certain key operational areas, such as IT, HR, accounting, and so on.

In all these areas, outsourcing services focus on providing efficient service to client companies, and the overall costs may be less than what your business spends now internally. Imagine, for example, how much time and money might be saved if a quality job placement firm landed you the right employees for your business.

Always have a disaster management plan in place. It may not be a flood or earthquake or tsunami, but some unforeseen event can cripple your business if you don’t plan ahead. Being efficient includes contingency planning and devoting resources and information to take decisive action if a natural or man-made disaster occurs. Commit to a comprehensive analysis of specific potential threats and what you can do to mitigate them. Itemize your most valuable assets and layout crisis-management steps to keep these assets safe and secure.

And always have an emergency communications plan ready because “your ultimate priority during any crisis is to preserve the trust of your customers” and employees.

Want more advice on making your business more efficient? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!