Monday, December 13, 2010

Training Wheels

Training is one of those functions often discussed in leadership circles, but seldom fully implemented. This is not being negative because of what is seen in practice (or not seen) or because of poor customer service experience obviously based on lack of training. No, I'm just stating a fact: while well-intended, continued training of employees is one of those tasks that is kept in the back rooms of the mind. It is "something that we'll get around to soon."

Some professionals believe that procrastination is the result of fear. It is the fear of not properly completing a project that causes us to not even begin. In his book, Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy states that if we eat a live frog first thing in the morning, that is the worse thing we will do all day and the rest of the day will be a breeze. The point is that if we tackle that one thing that we've been procrastinating, (translated: FEAR), we will build confidence to improve on that project and to go on and complete several others with ease.

If training were made a priority we would probably choose to complete it first. If we knew the outcome of the efforts of our training, we would put more effort into getting it done. It seems to reason then that we need to know the benefits of training so that we can appreciate the immediate need.

Conducting an analysis of job performance is a great place to begin. Discovering from various resources such as employee reviews, customer feedback forms, vendor feedback, sales tracking, and many more can help to determine where training is needed. In the case of sales, if a salesperson's performance has slipped, it is a good idea to find out why and then fix it. If you discover that the salesperson needs training in managing prospects, and you know that the outcome will be that the training will improve sales for the salesperson and the business, then training becomes a priority: TRAINING TO MANAGE PROSPECTS = $$$. Now you have a reason to train. The only other fear now, or reason for procrastinating is the "how" of training.

How we train is so vital to the outcome of our training that we don't want to mess it up. In the example of the salesperson and managing prospects, the trainer should have some knowledge in sales and business, but a lot of knowledge in managing prospects. The trainer should know how to train various personalities, how to measure effective training outcomes, and how to construct ongoing training materials.

Stay tuned for the next segment of "Training Wheels."
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