Retaining top talent at a small business can be a very challenging feat. Every day on LinkedIn, your “A” players are being hounded by recruiters offering the exciting opportunities that only working for large companies can provide. If you do no take this seriously, you can lose these valuable employees.
Candidates state that one of the most important factors they consider when choosing a new employer is the education and development program offered by the company. In order to attract the top talent, you need to offer a high and consistent level of employee education through an effective small business employee training program.
As a small business owner, it can be difficult to find the right balance between investing in your people without breaking the bank. It helps to decide on a measurable desired outcome when identifying where to spend your training budget.
Money spent on employee training can be one of the best investments your company makes or a huge waste of time and capital. The outcome is the difference.
Setting Yourself up for Success
The biggest mistake that most small business owners make when establishing a training program for their employees is not setting a defined goal, or having a goal that is poorly defined. We set goals like “sell more” or “have better customer service,” but the lack of definition and specificity can be your downfall.
The target should not only be measurable, like increasing sales by 10% for product A, or improving employee retention by 25%, but the training program should allow you to attain it.
Listed below are five steps to help you create an effective employee training program for your small business, and you can also watch a video overview here. These steps can be used when developing a “one-time” training seminar for your team or an ongoing program, such as new hire onboarding.
- Ask. What is the training need and what will success look like? This question should be asked many different ways, to as many people as possible. It is essential to conduct some form of “needs assessment” before developing a training program.
The needs assessment will typically identify common themes and areas of improvement that will have a direct impact on organizational success. If you are starting from ground zero, you might want to look at job descriptions or perform a job analysis to identify which disciplines warrant the training investment.
It is important to gain perspective from multiple sources, including your employees, to learn where you the best opportunity for impact is.
- Prepare. This is the most important step. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The team needs to identify the method of training, whether it is online, outside trainer, team training, etc. They also need to designate the people who will be involved, and the goals of the training.
This is when you will define what success looks like for your organization.
Are the desired results attainable and how can we get there? Give your people the resources they need to execute and take care to make the learning an ongoing process rather than a one- time event. If you can’t execute, the whole training program will be a waste of everyone’s time.
- Align. Small business owners usually fail to make sure that everyoneis prepared for a training program. This includes the employee, the trainers and the employees’ manager. Training will fall flat if managers do not buy into the process and give ample support to the employee, as well as the opportunity to utilize what they have learned.
This can result in benefits being minimized by a lack of focus and unwillingness to take the program seriously. Take the time to gain support from management by explaining the results that will be realized, and how that will contribute to their team’s success.
- Execute. Whatever your method and plan is, make sure you stick to it. Give your team time to execute without feeling the pressure of tying up resources. This is especially crucial if you are developing new hire training.
When trainers are trying to rush through material or minimize the content, they can tank the whole process. As with every great plan in business, it all comes down to execution.
Always link training directly to the job being performed and provide exercises that will not only keep the trainee involved, but actively learning. Allowing your teammates to be hands on and even conduct trainings as part of their annual performance plan can improve the effectiveness.
- Measure. It is time to identify if the training stuck.
The goal of training is to improve performance and maximize productivity. There are several different ways to measure the effectiveness of training programs. The end result should involve measuring trainee satisfaction, knowledge tests, performance improvements, and ROI metrics.
We have all been to that awesome training or seminar that we really impactful for exactly 24 hours, before slipping right back into our old habits.
The metrics defined in the planning stage need to be assessed to determine the impact of the program, while allowing for future enhancements to be made. Do not skip this step as it is a crucial piece of the puzzle.
Investing in your people is the best way for an organization to gain a competitive advantage in business. Like any investment, if you are not disciplined in research and execution, you can lose more than you gain. Take the time to work through each of these steps thoroughly in order to maximize the investment in your small business employee training program.
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