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Is Your Training Awful? Try These 5 Tips

Do you worry that you’re team isn’t well trained?

Is it keeping you up at night?

Do you feel like if you had better training then you might retain your talent?

You are right to be worried – all of these concerns are ones that leaders and Customers encounter in the workplace every single day.

Depending on which survey you read, up to 1 in 4 of those who leave a company within the first year do so because of a lack of training.

That is a pretty staggering number when you consider the cost to replace talent.  That number can reach up to 3 times the annual salary of the person in question, and with the tight budgets most businesses face, that capital can be better expended in other ways.

So what is a well meaning leader to do when it comes to ensuring proper training for his or her new Associates?  It is a question that has vexed leaders for decades – and it only becomes more challenging as workflow changes more rapidly and institutional knowledge dwindles due to job hopping.

Great Customer service is dependent upon team members knowing their jobs well and having the continuing training they need to keep their skills sharp.

This is true for the folks who are developing products, assembling products, or selling products directly to Guests.  At all steps of the organization, teams must be prepared with the skill to succeed at these tasks.

There are 5 things that can certainly help when it comes to ensuring that employees are ready to serve and delight Guests:

START TRAINING DURING HIRING:  That is to say, make sure you are honest about what is expected.  When you are interviewing and talking with prospective candidates, be sure that you are up front about what the job entails and what skills they are expected to bring to the party.  If they are a professional pastry chef, they should know how to bake a cake or temper chocolate.  If you offer training for most facets of the job, be sure they understand that they are expected to come with a great smile and a positive attitude.  You should absolutely let them know about your organization’s culture and the expectation for service they are expected to maintain.

ONBOARD WELL:  Be sure to take the time to start new team members down the right path.  Does the job require keys, a computer, parking pass, email, or ID badge?  Can they be waiting on a new employee on their first day?  These are the kinds of items that are often left to chance to dealt with haphazardly when a new employee starts – which often makes them wonder if anyone remembered they were coming?  If you can minimize these types of annoyances, you’ll find new hires more likely to stay engaged as they start work.  Also taking the time to introduce new folks to colleagues and giving them a tour of their work areas can help set them at ease and on a track to success.

TRAIN PRIOR TO GUEST INTERACTIONS:  If your new Associate requires training prior to starting, be sure it is complete before they are set loose on Guests.  Those who understand their duties are more likely to be at ease, treat Customers better, and also perform their duties with a higher level of execution.  It is also important to be sure that all training comes with a crystal clear set of expectations around quality and service.  Your new team members can’t possibly hit a standard that hasn’t been communicated.  Finally, remember that learning styles vary and a blend of electronic learning, classroom learning, and on-the-job learning will contribute to success.  One flag that needs to be thrown here:  E-Learnings have their place and are very economical, but don’t use them as a substitute to live training with colleagues.  This can neglect a key part of networking and socialization that matter when it comes to employee retention.

IMMERSE THEM IN THE CULTURE:  Your new Associates will benefit from learning about your organization and its history.  Most organizations have a fantastic story of starting as a dream, in a garage, out of the back of a truck, or in a one room school house.  Keep in mind where you are in your organization’s journey and make sure your new team member understands the part he or she is about to play in the future success of the business.  Whether you have a storied history or are just getting started, there is a story of passion to be shared.

DISCUSS THE LARGER PURPOSE:  Employees are more successful when they embrace a mission bigger than themselves.  You may run a construction company, but you help people build their dreams.  You might have a photography studio, but you help families record memories that will be displayed for a lifetime.  Almost every organization can find this larger vision that can become a point of pride for everyone employed there.  When you find yours, use it as a way to unify your team and make the training a part of something bigger.

Along the way, remember to keep the training fresh and updated so your employees always have a sharp set of tools with which to serve Guests.  Continual attention is needed to keep your team engaged and well trained.

These five ideas can help you set your team on a path of success and ensure that they are always prepared to deliver superior products and services to your Guests.  When you start with a team that understands its purpose, is empowered to deliver excellence, and trained in their duties, it is a powerful way to make sure your Customers receive remarkable experiences.

And, that they are always treated as cherished friends.


Tony Johnson Customer Experience Leader

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