The all-too-common scenario at many small companies is that most training happens only one-on-one with a manager or peer. And it’s usually in the moment, or more exactly, when faced with a problem (e.g., poor performance, lost business, or an unhappy customer). So in most cases, employees must go it alone.
However, if the small business owner is interested in providing training to his or her employees, these five steps are excellent strategies to implement:
Consider peer learning: Use the apprentice model to pair an experienced employee with a newer one. Have the more seasoned professional demonstrate the task, observe the less-experienced person doing the task, and then provide constructive feedback – which should be a successful formula.
Figure out (assess) what you need: This is often the most difficult task. Look at your people and the issues and ask questions to determine if training can solve the issue. Your assessment will define your audiences and their training needs and shape the learning content. So don’t omit this crucial step.
Focus your training on the most critical and frequently completed projects and tasks: Perhaps you’ve introduced a new technology such as a time management tool. Ask yourself which tools you will use the most frequently (e.g., adding the time spent on a project) and which are critical for key tasks such as saving and retrieving data. Make sure they’re all included in your training.
Look for off-the-shelf-content: There are lots of free, valuable learning materials out there. LinkedIn, community colleges, and professional groups like the Association for Talent Development are excellent resources for a variety of training requirements. Still, be sure you carefully evaluate the source and content to determine which offers the highest quality and is best suited to your needs.
Enable your employees to apply and practice what they learned to increase retention: Giving them information only (e.g., a PowerPoint file or a single webinar) will not cut it. To learn and retain what they’ve learned, employees need to conceptualize, do and apply.
In your training, make sure you build in practice time and the opportunity to apply the learning in the work context. One approach is to provide the concept using self-study materials like eLearning courses (conceptualize), followed by a facilitated workshop to offer practice (do) and post-training assignments to complete (apply).
Offering your employees training will go a long way in generating engagement and improving performance. And a well-trained employee will make your customers happy too!
About the Author
Tony Irace is president, Northern New Jersey chapter of the Association for Talent Development (NNJATD).
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