Executives are spending $164.2 billion dollars on employee training. Despite this extravagant expenditure, honing the skills of your workforce has never been more challenging. The tool, tips, and tricks can vary by industry, but we will give you 5 skills development techniques that can be used for almost any company looking to enhance their employee training programs.
Skills Development Technique #1: Have A Round Table Discussion
One of the first things you should do when you want to enhance the skills development of your employees is to create a opportunity for them to air their grievances. A great way to do this is to hold a round table discussion. Invite all of your employees to a meeting and ask them to prepare a list of ideas they have for improving the company. Their lists may include things like: better staff-wide communication, different advertising techniques, complaints they hear from customers, and so on. Depending on the trust you have built with your staff, they may be shy to share their ideas. You may have to take the first step by sharing something that you as the employer or manager can do better. Then call on someone by name – try the most outspoken person – to get your employees to participate. Be mindful of employees that are quiet during this meeting; they may have some of the most profound ideas to share.
Caution: this type of vulnerability with your staff takes humility on your part. Be ready to hear things that you may not like and even thoughts that may not work, but do your best to listen to employees. DO NOT shoot them down and don’t make them feel like an idiot for sharing their ideas – that is the quickest way to kill the meeting. The point is to listen to your staff so they feel respected, in turn you will earn their respect and they will listen to you.
#2: Focus On Personal Relationships
Once you’ve allowed for your employees to kick around ideas to improve the company, they will be more open to skills development tools. The second most important strategy to training employees is to get to know them personally. Think of your own life: do you receive and retain instruction better from someone who knows you and cares about you or someone who treats you as if you should be grateful to work for them? For most individuals we learn best when we know we are held accountable to people who are invested in our well being. Treating employees as if they are a number or worse, that they are lucky to work for you is a fast track to dispassionate, disloyal, lackluster employees.
Take time to learn about your employee’s lives. Have lunch with them on occasion to learn about their home life, kids, spouse, dream job, upcoming vacations, etc. You’ll be surprised at the buy-in you’ll get from employees who know you are genuinely interested in their lives.
#3: Practice Less and More
An important skills development technique is to strike a balance between training on topics relevant to your industry and overloading your employees with too much information. We are in the information age, which means skills can become obsolete within a short period of time. Your organization needs to make learning a more continuous, ongoing campaign, rather than a once-in-awhile chore. You want your employees to be on the cutting edge, but you also don’t want to spend endless days in meetings. Strike a balance between giving the right information and allowing employees time to implement the new skills before giving them new ones.
#4: Remember Customer Service is King
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, customer service is king. Every employee, manager, and business owner alike can benefit from customer service training; without it you’re bound to find you company mixed up in an embarrassing customer service train wreck. As opposed to holding a workshop allocated specifically to customer service workforce development, add a practical tip or two to each meeting. Focus on some of these areas for best improvement:
- Patience: Customer Service expert Gregory Ciotti explains “If you deal with customers on a daily basis, be sure to stay patient when they come to you stumped and frustrated, but also be sure to take the time to truly figure out what they want — they’d rather get competent service than be rushed out the door!
- Keep Your Cool: We’ve all had that customer who thinks the sky is falling on them. They may be brash, irritated, or just plain rude. The best customer service reps know that they cannot let a heated customer force them to lose their cool, instead it is your job to diffuse the situation (or at least not make it worse) by keeping a calm temperament.
- Problem solving: No customer wants to hear “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that”. If you don’t know the answer, go find someone that does. If you don’t sell a product, look up a company that does. Going above and beyond to make your customers happy pays out in the long term, as they keep coming back for the pleasant experience provided by you and your staff.
#5: Give Them Knowledge of the Product
Have you ever been completely stumped when someone asks you a question? Don’t let that happen to your employees. Spend time reviewing the intricacies of your products and services so that your employees can field any question that comes at them. Make a list of questions that you think someone could ask about your product or service. Think beyond the obvious questions and dig deep. Then let those questions be you guide for employee training. The more your people know, the more satisfied your customers will be, and more satisfied customers often means a stronger bottom line.
Don’t be intimidate by employee development. By and large people are willing and wanting to grow in their field; whether that’s by personal growth, relational growth, or increasing their knowledge of the industry. Give them the tools as well as the space to use those skills and you’ll be surprised at the natural development that occurs throughout your staff. However, workforce development may not be your strength. If that’s you – that is ok. A company like PayTech can assist you in this area. Our personable HR staff is highly skilled in this area. For more information contact our team today.