Startup Gold: 3 Ways to Train Wisely and Stay Lean Team members can't exceed expectations if you haven't set any.
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The goals of a startup are pretty straightforward -- grow revenue, scale quickly and stay cool. Training is one key to success, but too many young companies resist investing in formal training programs due to a lack of resources or fear of becoming uncool.
Shift this mindset. Here's how to quickly address a few of the most common barriers to setting up a killer training program -- one that will unearth your team's best ideas.
1. Lack of resources.
Your team is the best resource you have. Your colleagues are constantly developing new ways of doing things, so setting up a format for communicating information is one of the best things you can do to support them.
The easiest way to leverage internal knowledge is to set up a recurring training program that enables employees to share knowledge companywide. At SocialCode, we host bimonthly "Scholar" sessions where experts share information on new processes, industry updates and best practices. To encourage growth, we also offer courses through our continuing education program. People can sign up for workshops or a series of courses on UX design, marketing, leadership and even less-traditional courses on personal development such as mindfulness, yoga and meditation. When professional development, personal growth and community connections collide, you get startup gold -- new ideas.
2. Lack of forethought.
Startups often find that they grow much faster than they can train. Last year, there were 12 of you in one room. Now, there are more than 400 of you in three offices. Rapid growth can hurt productivity if you lack a training program that can scale to meet the needs of all these new employees. You can't ask your team members to exceed expectations if you haven't set any.
This can be as simple as outlining roles, responsibilities and expectations for each position. Thinking ahead will make opening that new West Coast office so much easier and more efficient. You will already have content that can be turned into online training courses, which are consistent, easy to monitor and cheaper than in-person trainings. Online learning is excellent for process-based skills, and removing unnecessary obstacles definitely makes a company cool.
3. Fear of rejection.
A formal training program may seem too grown up for a young company, and rapid startup evolution has stopped many training programs. Rather than see fluidity as a pain point, enable your team to grow and encourage a learning community. Remember, what your team is doing is cool. Making sure your team keeps getting better at what it does is also very cool.
Leadership support is key to improving training processes and ensuring accountability. Reminding leaders that training is everyone's job is a great place to start. A comprehensive training program demonstrates a leadership team's commitment to developing employees. What's cooler than that?
Employees will feel valued and empowered and will have a stronger sense of accountability if they know that you value their growth and development as much as you do their productivity.
The Association for Talent Development found that in 2015, small organizations with fewer than 500 employees spent an average of $1,888 per employee on training -- not to mention the cost per learning hour. Training specialist Andy Grove explains that when you train 10 employees for as little as 12 hours, the "training efforts result in a 1 percent improvement in your subordinates' performance. Your company will gain the equivalent of 200 hours of work." Forty hours of training preparation in an eLearning module can train 200, 400 or even 1,000 employees -- leading to a significant leap in work performance.
You will be surprised at how quickly your team will embrace your training program. You don't need animated GIFs or poorly crafted swag to sway your learners. If the content is solid, they will come. More importantly, they will contribute.
Grow revenue and stay lean.
Well-trained teams with access to continued educational resources, and leaders who prioritize learning,are bound to come up with more good ideas that will make your company better. New ideas are startup gold and a solid, but simple, training program is the pan that will help you find it.