It seems to me that too many businesses consider training to be an ad hoc exercise; it is only considered when onboarding a new employee or introducing new policy or procedures. Even then many companies have no documented system of onboarding new employees, its often a tell session which is not how the majority of people learn.
I believe you can’t afford not to train as we know in our team research that training is a big driver to being loyal to a business and probably even more importantly training upskills people to improve their performance thus improve business performance.
I’ve been developing both off and on job training for leaders and front-line team members for 30 years, and it’s always unbelievable to me that businesses do not see training as a valued resource that drives sales and increases their bottom line.
I’m proud that over 5000 leaders from 30+ countries have completed my Leaders as Coaches (LAC) course with 9 out of 10 saying it is the best course they have been on. Plus, we would then coach them back on the job to ensure that the learning is transferred their job.
I’ve also had senior roles in large companies where I’ve been responsible for the performance of the business, and I’ve had no training budget. I often had to go to the marketing manager, to negotiate some money to conduct training.
These large companies will spend millions and millions and millions of dollars on their physical look, and then have diddly squat budgeted for training.
In one of my previous articles Don’t Forget The People Side Of The Experience I wrote about a local shopping center that had just spent millions and millions of dollars upgrading not just one or two stores but the entire shopping center. I had heard conversations from other people in our community that the end result was fabulous, and they were particularly delighted with the size and layout of the new stores including another supermarket.
These conversations got me thinking and tweaked my interest because what I noticed is that not one person spoke about the customer service they had received whilst either in the shopping center itself, or in the supermarket.
What we know from our research is that what is not talked about is sometimes more important that what is being said. So off I went.
Millions and millions of dollars have been spent to create the environment but sadly, just as I suspected, not much if any, has been spent on employee training, re-training, and upskilling.
Watching the employees, it was clear there was no consistency and no real confidence shown by the employees I observed and spoke to. In fact, I could not see any difference in the service even though the store was the latest model. Like normal, some of the staff were great, some could not answer my questions, some of them were doing an okay job, and some looked like they were pretty bored and couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Overall, my customer experience was different depending on the employee I observed and then interacted with.
So, my point is whether you’re investing millions of dollars in your business or simply introducing a new way of operating, you have got to look at everything, including your team.
I’m sure all companies aren’t like this, but I would say for the majority, it’s like an afterthought, of actually looking at training, and then ongoing training and follow up coaching.
Learning Has Not Taken Place Until Behaviors Change Back On The Job
There is no point just doing one off training. Training needs to be consistent; people need to be able to replicate and replicate and replicate again, over, and over to change behaviours that makes a difference and transfer to on the job.
One of my philosophies is, learning has not taken place until behaviours change back on the job.
You have got to go back to the job and support the transfer, otherwise, what’s the point?
I often ask leaders, if you send people on a course, and there’s no follow up on the job, what’s most predictable? And they all say that people are going to fall back to their old behaviors.
Let’s look at sporting teams as an example, high level repetition is considered to be an absolutely critical part of what they do.
Sport Shows Us The Importance Of Training
When the game is not being played, what are the best sports teams doing every day? They’re training!
I love this quote from the book Legacy which was a study on the culture of the New Zealand Rugby team called the All Blacks.
In business, training is often limited to the occasional away-day. Effective training is intense, regular and repetitious. For world class results, it should be central to the culture.
Even the best in their field spend hours perfecting the fundamentals. Tiger Woods was notorious for staying behind after a game practicing his golf swing. Perfect practice makes permanent.
Again, what do most businesses do? Most allow their team to go on the field without any warm-up or training in advance. They’re fumbling the ball while the game is being played, and this is costly to a business where customer loyalty, repeat business and word of mouth referral is critical for success.
Players are used to repetition because repetition is the secret to skill.
When They WIN You WIN
Which brings me back to my question – Why is it so difficult to get quality training done? Especially when there are so many case studies that show on-job training has a direct correlation to an increase in your revenue.
Take New Zealand lotteries for example, the then CEO David Bail (back in my day), he just he got the importance of training, and he allocated a training budget of nearly a million dollars a year, across 500 stores.
This high-level budget enabled us to build two full mock stores inside our training rooms in both Auckland and Wellington, so each person who participated in the training program got to practice and replicate in a real store environment. Everything was real.
To note, this was when I was in my late 20’s early 30’s we can only imagine what their budget would be now.
New Zealand lotteries were the best performing lotteries in the world at that time. And here’s why. Every owner had to come to participate in a five-day training program to learn how to run their business as part of the franchise system. A portion of their franchise fee went directly into training. If my memory serves me, about 15K out of 60, 000 or 70,000 was dedicated to training.
It was a huge commitment, and it was massively successful. Our training produced an average increase of 15% in sales growth.
We had trainers based around the country to continually deliver to the front-line teams. Training was repetitive, continuous and it was high level quality training that made a difference back on the job.
It’s important to remember, if training is behavioural, then no amount of theoretical, or online video tutorials will do.
As with the sports teams, it comes back to repetition and practice and repetition and practice and follow up. It’s the only way to understand and interrupt unconscious behaviors and transfer new skills back on the job.
Which leads me to next week’s article where we will drill down on how to identify if training is really needed and if so, what there is to train. Stay tuned.
If you would like to have a chat with me about ‘Leaders As Coaches (LAC) course‘ contact me I look forward to hearing from you.