Once you hire smart local talent it becomes your job to train that local talent and give them the tools they’ll need to succeed on your team. That is your job as their new employer – to increase their skill-level and make them more well-rounded in their field. If you can’t do this, you will not only grow unhappy and frustrated employees, but you’ll lose money when you send them away and then need to replace them.
You do not want to do this. You do not want to fail at training.
As I’ve been on both sides of this situation, I thought I’d share some ways employers relatively fail at training and how you can suck less to grow happier, better-functioning employees. Because most times, when an employee doesn’t work, it’s because of something YOU did. Not them.
Got a pen?
1. The Company Never Defines Business Goals
During the interview process you gave the candidate the quick rundown of who you are, what you’re doing and what you plan to accomplish over the next 10 years. If the candidate is smart, they probably even did some Google-stalking to get to know your business a little better. But now they are part of your business. It’s time for another sit down to explain your business goals, the purpose behind your methodology, and what the company’s main objective is. I’m not saying they need to be present for a 3-day retreat while you outline your business strategy, but at least give them the bullet points. Give them the information they need to understand how their time is best spent, what areas they should focus to help the company grow, and what truly matters. It’s a lot easier to steer a ship when you don’t have people plotting in different directions.
New hires should also understand the above about their clients, as well. It’s one thing to tell a new employee that it’s their job to build links for Client X, but taking the time to explain the client’s needs, wants and objectives will help them understand what types of links to go after and what kind of exposure the client is really looking for. By giving context to the work at hand, you help employees knock it out of the park because they know what truly matters and aren’t just focused on random data points.
2. The Focus Is On Task-Specific Knowledge, Not Industry Knowledge
If you’re a motivated and curious employee, there’s nothing more frustrating than a boss who wants to shove you in a box and only let you learn about your specific job function. I know that when I worked for others, this is something that made me incredibly resentful. I understand I was hired to perform a certain task, but I also wanted to learn about the company and become more well-rounded. I wanted to sit in on the other departments and learn what everyone else in the company was doing to bring context to my own work and help out when I could. I didn’t want to be one thing, I wanted to be awesome. When I wasn’t allowed to do that, I left.
When you DON’T let your employees come out of their cave and see the whole experience, you limit them. You intentionally stunt their knowledge, their growth and their ability to truly excel at what they’re doing. And that sucks. By encouraging employees to learn about the industry they’re part of you help them perform their job better, stay motivated, feel fulfilled and give them context to what they’re doing.
3. Employee’s Specific Skills Are Ignored
Every employee you hire is going to come to your business with unique skills. Skills that they picked up from other jobs or through different experiences. Instead of ignoring that, look for ways to integrate their unique skills into what you’re doing. Just because you run an Internet marketing company, doesn’t mean your company can’t benefit from someone with years of traditional marketing experience. Just because you’re selling handbags today, doesn’t an employee with a background in video production can’t bring something awesome to the table. Hiring people with different skillsets is a great way to expand your business into new areas and experiment with different things.
Instead of sucking the life out of people by forcing them to relinquish their old skills and identity, encourage them to get a little messy.
4. You Offer Horribly Awful Training Exercises
A new person starts fully energized and ready to light the world on fire. So what do you do?
- You hand him a 30lb 3-ring binder and tell him to read it before he touches anything.
- Or, you lock her in a conference room for two days while you show the World’s Longest PowerPoint Presentation.
Neither learn anything because they’re too busy drooling on your newly refinished conference table.
You have to train people, but no one said that training had to be mind-numbingly boring. Create a training program that engages people by giving them an active role and where they’re asked to do/em> stuff, demonstrate knowledge, and put things back together after you’ve broken them. That’s how people learn. Not by sitting through two days of slides and bad jokes.
5. There’s No Opportunity For New Thinking
Allow employees to be an active part of the training process. Just because they’re new to your company doesn’t mean they have nothing to offer to your existing staff. When they’re done going through your required training materials, go back to looking at the skills they came in with and see if there’s not something they could help the rest of the team do better or learn about. I bet you there is. And what a great way to make the new guy feel valued and part of the company’s success.
6. Training Is Never Revisited
Training is not a one-time thing. It is something that is on-going and that must be revisited throughout the course of someone’s employment. I don’t care what industry you’re part of – whether it’s the SEO world, real estate or cupcake decorating – unless you’re constantly training and educating your staff, you’re going to lose its effectiveness and grow frustrated employees.
Those are six ways I’ve seen employers grow unhappy employees by either refusing to train them or doing a pretty crappy job. What has sent you running from a job? Or, on a more positive note, what makes you love your current gig (c’mon, you know your boss is watching)? ;)