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SCORE's Top Training Tips

Need help training your employees? SCORE has advice that'll help you get them in tip-top shape.
December 6, 2005
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/81268

5 Tips for Developing Employees

  1. Take the attitude that training is really employee development. That'll help you think more strategically about what your employees need to learn.
  2. Recognize that formal training programs are only part of the picture. Most real training occurs on the job.
  3. Help employees develop problem-solving skills and the ability to think by giving them work that'll stretch them.
  4. Set an example. Your own pleasant attitude and good work habits will influence your workers.
  5. Understand that when you give employees an opportunity to grow, their job satisfaction and your ability to retain them as employees both increase substantially.

5 Tips for Educating Outside Salespeople

  1. Put yourself in their shoes. For example, understand what a retail clerk selling your product needs to know to help a customer.
  2. Provide support materials. These can range from inexpensive fact sheets to videos that provide refresher training.
  3. When a product is complicated, do on-site training with sales associates.
  4. Make sure you or a knowledgeable member of your staff is available to answer questions from sales associates--via telephone or e-mail.
  5. Get feedback from outside salespeople so that you can improve training as you introduce new products.

5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Training

  1. Make sure your employees understand ahead of time the reasons for training. What problems will it solve?
  2. Put yourself in their shoes. Tell them how they will benefit.
  3. Make it interesting. Hire a competent trainer or, if you do it yourself, find ways to engage your employees' attention--such as including videotapes or role-playing.
  4. Be clear about expectations. Focus on the behavioral changes or improvements that you're looking for.
  5. Measure the results. Training without follow-up is ineffective. Keep repeating your message and show appreciation to employees who keep trying to meet the expectations.

5 Tips for Training on a Budget

  1. Form a training "co-op." The American Society for Training and Development suggests teaming up with other companies to offer courses.
  2. Take advantage of training offered by the manufacturers of equipment that you buy. Have training included in the purchase agreement.
  3. Find out if your employees can take part in training programs that major customers have for their own employees.
  4. Encourage employees to participate in educational opportunities offered by their unions or professional associations.
  5. Train one employee to train others. ASTD suggests sending one employee for training and sharing what he or she learns with the rest of your staff.

5 Tips on Employee Orientation

  1. Don't ignore new-employee orientation. The first days on the job are a wonderful "teachable moment."
  2. Concentrate on showing a new employee how his or her work will contribute to the success of the company.
  3. Help the new employee gain a complete understanding of your products or services and how your company differs from its competitors.
  4. Make sure newcomers are introduced to all their co-workers.
  5. School newcomers in the corporate culture. Make sure, for example, that they don't mistake a casual dress code for a casual attitude toward work.

5 Tips on Ethics Training

  1. Know that a strong ethics program can protect your company's reputation and enhance profits. Employees need to understand what's expected of them.
  2. Begin by creating a statement of values and a code of ethics for your company, involving employees in the process.
  3. Set up a training process. Having managers (including the CEO) train direct reports can be very effective.
  4. Keep in mind that some employees may need special training because certain jobs, such as purchasing, expose them to more ethical lapses.
  5. A good source of information is www.bsr.org , the website of the organization, Business for Social Responsibility.

5 Tips on What Makes Online Training Valuable

  1. Online training can be an affordable alternative. Companies can save up to two-thirds of what classroom-based courses cost.
  2. More and more traditional training vendors are offering online courses. More choices means competitive rates.
  3. Students can ask tutors and instructors questions, and get a personalized response in minutes. In addition, many online training classes provide instant responses to quizzes--providing the employer quick results.
  4. Online courses are as easy as self-tutorials; they provide click-through instructions.
  5. Training content is flexible up until the very moment the student sits in front of the monitor. This makes altering content to address a new technology situation a snap.

5 Tips on Where to Find Employee Training

  1. Check out the internet for convenient, cost-effective web-based courses. Start with internet service providers like America Online or the education sections of such portals as Netscape and Yahoo!
  2. Contact state and local development agencies. Some of them offer training programs in order to attract and keep businesses.
  3. Investigate programs offered by local universities, community colleges and adult-education programs.
  4. Hire teachers or consultants to provide training at your place of business or off-site. Get references first.
  5. Ask corporations. Many offer instruction on the software they market or the equipment they manufacture.

Brought to you by SCORE , "Counselors to America's Small Business."