A lesson in the importance of training

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This article appeared in the February 2014 issue of CRN magazine.

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A lesson in the importance of training

Training is the best investment any reseller can make. Done well, training can develop employees towards long-term career goals and promote greater job satisfaction. 

Indeed, a more satisfied employee is likely to stay longer and be more productive. One study has found that 40 percent of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions within the first year. They cite the lack of skills training and development as the principal reason for moving on. Needless to say, high turnover will cost the company in terms of time spent screening and interviewing applicants and then training them. In other words, a workplace training regime can save the company money.

Training delivers a return on investment in several ways.

First, it helps run the business better. Trained employees are better equipped to serve customers and handle equipment. 

Training is also a retention strategy. Employees are always looking for the next challenge. They are more likely to stay if they are offered ways to learn to grow while they are at the company. If they are left to stagnate, they are more likely to leave.

Secondly, training is a good recruitment tool. Many job seekers are now looking for more than just a job that gets them regular pay. They want something that can put them on a successful career path. Training does just that. You are more likely to attract and keep employees if you offer good training opportunities.

Training also creates a more flexible and efficient workplace. Smart resellers can cross-train employees to be capable in more than one aspect of the business. That means teaching them to be competent in sales, customer service, administration and operations. This is enormously helpful for setting schedules or filling in for absences. Cross-training also fosters team spirit, as employees appreciate the challenges faced by co-workers.

Training facilitates knowledge transfer. It is important to share knowledge among staff because if only one person has special skills, the reseller will have a tough time recouping their knowledge if they suddenly leave the company. Spreading knowledge around is a way of diversifying the investment.

Training is much more than formal classroom training. The Centre for Creative Leadership developed a model for leadership development, which they labelled 70:20:10:

• 70 percent challenging assignments

• 20 percent developmental relationships

• 10 percent coursework and training

Organisations can enhance the probability of getting a solid return on their training investment by including several elements of a training model design.

The first is to consider the ability of learners to learn. Smart companies run training programs that prepare people to learn. Also, the training has to match people’s particular learning styles.

Ensuring learners have the motivation to learn is as important as ensuring they have the ability to learn. Motivation to learn is at its highest when the learning offered has a direct link to a learner’s career aspirations or their interests. Resellers should not send learners on courses which have no connections to their career plans or interests.

It is also important to understand the learner’s interests and match their skill development to those interests. That will tap into their motivation to learn. 

There should also be different types of training delivery methods. Employees learn in different ways and at different paces. 

This is why it is important to make sure that everyone has access to the material and can be engaged in different ways. Resellers can send employees to relevant conferences, bring in a training professional, and provide access to online training programs. Indeed, the best training methods employ a mixed method approach, combining at least two of these options. 

Training should also be monitored but most importantly, it shouldn’t stop. It’s an ongoing process. Best practice is to provide recurring refresher courses and cross-training opportunities for existing employees and comprehensive starter training for new hires. And to make it permanent, it should be incorporated in the annual performance appraisal.


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