Category Archives: Training

Customer Service – Are You All In On Employee Training?

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Imagine if you will a hospital that spent more time and money training their C-suite than their direct-care staff of doctors and nurses. Or a large airlines spending most of their training budget on the executive staff and very little on the pilots, flight crew, or mechanics.

The resulting scenraiors wold prove to be short-sighted and troublesome. And yet it seems that the average company spends more on training for upper level versus line-level or front-line employees.

A survey of average company training budgets will reveal that a typical company will spend from 2-5% of annual revenues on training.

The Association for Talent Development in their annual state of the industry report from last year revealed that the average company spent $1273 per employee in 2017.

Couple that with Training Mag’s study of “per-learner training” from the same period and you’ll see that most of the $1000-plus spending per-learner was done on the C-suite level, then less for mid-level management and the least individual employees. The exception seemed to be for “high potential” employees.

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If you take these statistics and see the ongoing (10 + years) trend in worsening customer service experiences, one can draw a conclusion that more training needs to be invested on the front line staff in order to reverse this trend. And while some of this is related to the rapid education of the customer and the tight labor market, there is still one thing any company can do to provide a better customer experience.

Spend more time training your front line staff than you do anyone else.

About 15 years ago a restaurant chain claimed to spend more money than the industry on training was found to have actually shortchanged their line staff and spent more resources on opening more and more units. This eventually led to their bankruptcy just a few years later.

A couple of independent and different healthcare organizations were both afflicted with the same fate in the last few years. Instead of managing resources to the employees in the way of training, they diverted those monies to the top of the organization. As a result, patient care and satisfaction tanked, employees left, and both are facing various regulatory issues as they struggle to be in compliance.

While training and development of all levels of staff are essential, the expenses of major conferences at higher levels can tend to be very expensive without much ROI and direct customer impact. But a more focused training on front-line staff will reap higher returns and boost your levels of customer satisfaction. It’s a model that Chick-Fil-A uses to their advantage in their huge growth over the least decade. Same for Bonobos, whose goal is to help their workers become better employees and equip them with skills needed to do their jobs. CyberCoders and Paychex also have made committed goals to go all in on training their employees and their cultures and recruiting efforts reflect this quite positively.

What is being advocated here is the mindset to pour better and more focused resources – proportionately – into those employees who face your customers and have the most touchpoints with them. In a shifting economy and sliding landscape of digital and analaog business, being able to spend your resources on front-line training is essential for a company to stand out. In order to combat evolving business models, tight staffing, and increasing customer expectations, you need to up your game to invest in more training for your employees who most come in contact with your customers.

Determine today to build a better company and go all in on employee training.

The best companies know that the reasons to spend more on training are worth every cent.

(per-learner image: brandonhallgroup; main image: pixabay)

Why Slow Learners May Be Ready For Rapid Growth

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In virtually every organization there are people who seem to never learn or grow. Oftentimes we classify them as disengaged, subversive, or troublemakers, and look to dismiss them.

I have observed repeatedly a fair number of people that have slow learning curves which takes them a while to learn the fundamentals of their job. Yet I have been amazed at how many have blossomed over a longer period of time than others into solid team members and even became strong leaders in their own right.

What was the cause for the transformation?

Many people grow in proportion like a bamboo tree.

When a bamboo tree is planted and watered it doesn’t sprout for the first year, or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth. It takes five full years for the typical bamboo plant to finally break ground.

Once it does, it is actually one of the fastest growing plants in the world, sometimes growing at a rate of 35 inches in a day.

What is the cause for this tremendous growth?

In the course of the four-year period of seeming nothingness, the tree is growing a complex underground network of roots. These roots are so vast and extensive, that if you were to uproot a grown tree you would find it difficult to do so because of the root system.

It’s roots store all that water and nutrients, and create a myriad of conduits to support the rapid growth of the tree when it’s time has come.

And when the tree has come to full maturity, it possesses a denser strength than brick or concrete and a higher tensile strength than steel.

Sit back and think of the people in your organization that don’t seem to be growing. Are they working hard? Listening? Are they staying loyal, staying put with your company?

These people might actually be growing under the surface in ways you may not notice. These could be future impact players who, with the right combination of water and nutrients – training, encouragement, and entrusted responsibility – could shoot up from their place and make their presence known.

Just because we don’t see anything happening on the outside – stellar performance, heads nodding in agreement, skills being mastered in our timeframe – does not mean your people are not learning and growing. They may very well be developing some strong roots underneath.

Every leader is responsible for giving their people the necessary ingredients for growth and development. If you withhold any ingredient, you stunt their growth. When you liberally apply training, vision, knowledge, trust, and other internal and external resources, you may see quick growth. But if you don’t see anything quickly, be patient and wait. They are growing, you just may not actually see it.

Invest your time into everybody. Don’t be prejudiced by the outward displays of growth and performance. You just might discover some people ripe for rapid growth.

People that will be strong as steel – or a bamboo tree – in their value and loyalty to your organization.

(image: pixabay)

Using The Training Model On Yourself To Be A Better Leader

board-2449726_1280Many of the successful training programs follow this general pattern for building job proficiency:

  • Why Do
  • How Do
  • I Do
  • We Do
  • You Do

While this is a great way to transfer knowledge to others, there seems to be another application in which a leader can use this model.

What if a leader uses this to understand what their employees go through in order to better understand their jobs and roles?

Leaders can sometimes get removed from the nuances of their staff’s job functions, which often results in decisions that negatively impact various employees. If a leader better understood how a certain role functions, and what the challenges are to complete those job tasks regularly, then better team development and decision making would certainly evolve.

Let’s take this model and run it through:

  • Find out why employees do the various steps of the job task. Do they know why, and have a competency beyond “just because”? Also, why do employees do what they do? Is there a reason they don’t perform a certain step such as technical issues, expediency, or failed procedures and systems?
  • When you discover how certain roles perform certain tasks, you can better discover areas of productivity, talent, and skills that lend themselves to that task. Someone may do a process that works great for them, and not outside of procedural norms, that might save time, money, or injury risk. In addition, you may find better ways to train and garner increased efficiency in those areas. Plus, you’ll also be better versed in the ways your employees apply skills, training, and barriers to get their jobs accomplished.
  • This means yourself. Immerse yourself into understanding what your team members contend with on a regular basis. Ask questions and make sure you fully understand to bridge the gap between oversight and competency yourself.
  • If at all possible (and it always is) work alongside your people to see what they do in action. Don a hard hat or smock and see and feel how they do their specific tasks. Have them show you and let them feel good about giving you insight into their world. Spend time with other employees to ensure you know the full scope of what the entire team needs to execute their jobs.
  • Now that you’re fully conversant in your people’s work tasks, it’s totally up to you going forward. It’s incumbent upon you as a leader to make sure any decision (work process, policy change, etc) does not negatively impact the staff. If anything, your knowledge should help steer their jobs to increased engagement, competency and – more importantly – better customer service, as they most likely have higher touchpoints with your customers.

If a leader can use this to understand their teams jobs better, think about the possibilities of using this to investigate employee performance issues, policy compliance, or other concerns within the organization. It prevents rushing to judgement, have others make decisions that can adversely impact team morale and/or performance, and maybe will prevent managing out an employee who has no other input and just needs to have their concerns seen firsthand.

Train yourself to follow the same model you develop your staff in order to be a better leader yourself.

(image: pixaby)

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