SCORE's Top Training Tips
Need help training your employees? SCORE has advice that'll help you get them in tip-top shape.
5 Tips for Developing Employees
- Take the attitude that training is really employee development. That'll help you think more strategically about what your employees need to learn.
- Recognize that formal training programs are only part of the picture. Most real training occurs on the job.
- Help employees develop problem-solving skills and the ability to think by giving them work that'll stretch them.
- Set an example. Your own pleasant attitude and good work habits will influence your workers.
- Understand that when you give employees an opportunity to grow, their job satisfaction and your ability to retain them as employees both increase substantially.
- Put yourself in their shoes. For example, understand what a retail clerk selling your product needs to know to help a customer.
- Provide support materials. These can range from inexpensive fact sheets to videos that provide refresher training.
- When a product is complicated, do on-site training with sales associates.
- Make sure you or a knowledgeable member of your staff is available to answer questions from sales associates--via telephone or e-mail.
- Get feedback from outside salespeople so that you can improve training as you introduce new products.
- Make sure your employees understand ahead of time the reasons for training. What problems will it solve?
- Put yourself in their shoes. Tell them how they will benefit.
- 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.
- Be clear about expectations. Focus on the behavioral changes or improvements that you're looking for.
- 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.
- Form a training "co-op." The American Society for Training and Development suggests teaming up with other companies to offer courses.
- Take advantage of training offered by the manufacturers of equipment that you buy. Have training included in the purchase agreement.
- Find out if your employees can take part in training programs that major customers have for their own employees.
- Encourage employees to participate in educational opportunities offered by their unions or professional associations.
- 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.
- Don't ignore new-employee orientation. The first days on the job are a wonderful "teachable moment."
- Concentrate on showing a new employee how his or her work will contribute to the success of the company.
- Help the new employee gain a complete understanding of your products or services and how your company differs from its competitors.
- Make sure newcomers are introduced to all their co-workers.
- 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.
- Know that a strong ethics program can protect your company's reputation and enhance profits. Employees need to understand what's expected of them.
- Begin by creating a statement of values and a code of ethics for your company, involving employees in the process.
- Set up a training process. Having managers (including the CEO) train direct reports can be very effective.
- Keep in mind that some employees may need special training because certain jobs, such as purchasing, expose them to more ethical lapses.
- 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
- Online training can be an affordable alternative. Companies can save up to two-thirds of what classroom-based courses cost.
- More and more traditional training vendors are offering online courses. More choices means competitive rates.
- 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.
- Online courses are as easy as self-tutorials; they provide click-through instructions.
- 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.
- 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!
- Contact state and local development agencies. Some of them offer training programs in order to attract and keep businesses.
- Investigate programs offered by local universities, community colleges and adult-education programs.
- Hire teachers or consultants to provide training at your place of business or off-site. Get references first.
- 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."