Make training a priority at your small business

Training your employees shouldn’t stop after the first few months of teaching them the ropes of your small business and their specific job responsibilities. Training should be ongoing to fulfill the changing requirements of your company as well the needs of employees to keep learning.

In “Why It’s Crucial to Train Your Employees,” Ben Horowitz, co-founder of venture capital firm Andreesseen Horowitz, recounts when he was director of product management at Netscape the two primary reasons why employees said they left the company were that they hated their manager (hopefully not a problem at your small business) or that they weren’t learning anything because the company wasn’t investing anything in them.

Considering the challenge in finding and retaining good employees (Plantronics survey finds that 44 percent of small business owners say attracting and finding quality labor is the biggest HR pain point), you certainly don’t want to lose any and definitely not when you easily could have retained them by making an investment in their professional growth.

Get the results you want and need

Before you launch a training program for you employees, here are some things to keep in mind to make sure you get the desired results:

Foster a learning environment: Encourage your team to learn. Talk to your team about the evolving needs of your small business. Make it clear that you want to continue to hire from within so that everyone has a chance to advance and that you will provide the necessary training to help them take on new roles and responsibilities.

Establish training goals: Formalize a plan for training  each of your team members and include measurable goals. Once the training begins, meet with team members regularly to measure progress, at which point you can make adjustments.

Personalize training: One size does not fill all and that applies to trainingSome employees may benefit more from one-on-one training with another one of your other team members than from attending a class. Also everyone learns at a different pace. Take this into consideration as you develop a training plan for each of your employees.

Keep training costs down

Training doesn’t have to be expensive or involve a lot of time away from the office. Online training courses, for example, enable employees to learn at their own pace right in your office without having to travel across town or another city.

TC Computer, an IT consulting company serving credit unions in Texas and Louisiana, needs to keep its technical team up to date on the latest technology to meet customer needs.  Online webinars provide a time-saving and cost effective alternative to sending technicians offsite for training.

To make the experience comfortable and convenient for technicians who might have to spend as much as a half a day watching a training video on their computer and listening with a headset, TC Computer purchased Plantronics Voyager Bluetooth wireless headsets, which connect to PC and mobile phones. The headsets enable technicians to move around freely — get up and stretch if they need to — while the videos are running. They also can conveniently put the training video on pause to go to the break room to get a cup of coffee without having to remove their audio equipment.

Other cost effective training options include:

  • Join associations:  Industry associations offer training programs for their members, which may include seminars and conferences as well as online training.
  • Cultivate internal trainers: If someone in your organization has particularly strong communication and interaction skills, make them the trainers. Send them to classes so they can come back and share what they learned.
  • Brown bag lunches:  Invite in professionals from your industry to a brown bag lunch to talk to your group. You may even choose someone on your own team who has a special skill or experience to share with the group.
  • Create a mentoring program: Provide the less experienced employees with a mentor from within the organization. The mentor is responsible for helping that person develop skills and knowledge to advance professionally.

Your investment in training will pay big dividends in the long run.

About Judi Hembrough

Judi leads Americas Marketing strategy and go-to-market programs for the Small and Medium Business (SMB) customer segment at Plantronics. Judi has been a marketing director at Plantronics for 10 years in various roles focused on Strategic Alliances Marketing, SMB and Home & Home Office solutions. Prior to Plantronics, Judi was President of William-Christie Associates, Inc. -- a management consulting practice, for 10 years where she guided numerous companies such as Palm, Intuit, CBS MarketWatch and HID, in driving new initiatives.