With today's tightening labor market, what you do with your existing employees has become more critical. Training does more than just give your employees more skills; it can help keep your employees engaged in your business and give them a sense of ownership in their own development.
Creating a development strategy can be a challenge for companies that are already doing more with less. After all, it's far easier to just keep doing what you've been doing. But investing in your workforce now can have big long-term benefits.
Here are three tips for improving your employee training program:
1. Create a plan for cross-functional training. If you want an employee to grow with your company, provide opportunities for them to learn more about your company. Boxing them in their current position by providing training only on that current position won't offer them the broad knowledge they'll need to take on increasing responsibility. (Read more about how to expand the focus of training in 2016 Distribution Remodel: Deepen Talent Development.)
2. Create a culture of learning. “Imagine the doctor that never studies anything,” says John Jacobsen, former vice president of sales and marketing at DGI Supply. “He became a doctor 20 years ago but doesn’t continue to look at what’s new out there. I don’t want to go to that doctor." The same is true for distributors. Customers are looking for more from their partners; they want solutions, not just the same old sales pitch. Making ongoing development a priority in your company creates a culture of learnings, Jacobsen says – and that can give you a competitive advantage. (Read more in The Critical Role of Employee Training.)
3. Be open to new ideas. You may think you know the best way to do something, but how open are you, as a leader, to getting input from your employees? Establishing a feedback mechanism is critical to improving processes within a business, including training and sales. Innovation needs to be inherent in your organization and cultivated in an open, safe environment where idea generation and communication is encouraged. (Read more in Fostering a Culture of Innovation and The Value of a Feedback Loop for Sales.)