Archives for category: Career
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Team members on a sales training workshop from Gates Group, an organisation INVESTING in their staff.

How much time, money and effort do you invest in your staff?  Yes, I appreciate that you pay them a wage or salary, but is that it?  If you consider the notion that staff are one of the most fundamental and crucial parts of any business, then surely you should invest in them?

So how do you do that? Well for a start, when did you last TRAIN your staff?

There is sometimes a big ‘fear factor’ about training staff within organisations, which, whilst I categorically do not agree with it, I can understand it, to a degree.  One of the biggest fears is that once the staff member has been trained… they can then take over the boss’s role!  You could argue it stems from perhaps being insecure in the role of the boss!

Training and Development on the Gears.

Training is synonomous with development.

Many of you will have heard this conversation between the Managing Director and The Training and Development Manager?  For those that haven’t, here we go:-

Training Manager; ‘We really should be training our staff’.

Managing Director; ‘But what if we spend all that money on them and they then leave’?

Training Manager; ‘What if we don’t train them and they stay’?

I’m sure many of you reading this will have experienced working for someone who had this attitude, or scarily enough, maybe they just could not see the benefit in training.  Given that many of you reading this will be the retail industry, statistically, the main reason consumers do not return to a shop, pub, supplier or organisation, is not down to the product or product range, the location or even the price; it’s down to staff attitude.  Now what this effectively means is, you are employing staff, paying them a wage, and they are scaring off customers!! Not only that, but those customers are going out of their way to tell others.  Sound ludicrous? Well I can tell you it is happening right NOW.

Another huge assumption is that if you train staff initially when they join the company, then that is it; the rest they simply ‘pick up as they go along’.  But have you noticed how your industry has changed massively over the last 20-30 years… and yet we still, often, do not recognise a need for up-skilling and refresher training.  I’ve often used the analogy of a fully qualified Heart Surgeon, who did their training 30 years ago and has performed plenty of transplants.  If you were about to go under the scalpel…. with the knowledge that they had not up skilled or re-trained in all those years… how confident would you be?  EVERYONE needs ongoing training, as the job, products and environment changes, although bizarrely (and this has always worried me a little)… once you have passed your driving test at 17, you have no more training or refreshers for over 60 years! Is it any wonder that maybe that is a contributory factor to so many poor drivers on the roads and so many road accidents and deaths?

悩むビジネスマン

How many Managers ‘stress’ because they do not delegate or empower their team?

So what is the true cost of NOT training your staff?  It’s an open ended answer and depends on many factors, but what has been proven time and time again is that without training, you are not getting the very best out of your staff.  So what training should you undertake?  Well look at it another way; What is it you would like your staff to do that they currently are not doing?

Legislative Training should be carried out, regardless of the size of your business, so Health & Safety and Fire Safety training needs to be a regular part of your training and whilst many can view this as a ‘cost’, I believe it to be an investment.  It is far far less expensive than actually having an accident, together with possible fines for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

You may want to take a look at business specific training, perhaps your own stock control methods or ‘till’ training, just to decrease the amount of ‘No Sales’ rung up on the till?!  Generic training, which again, should still be tailor-made to your own business can include Sales training, Customer Service (yes I know this is a quick win for most organisations, but in my opinion, we are generally appallingly bad at this as a nation), you may even want to look at PEOPLE or MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT training?  It’s not just the football world that has mind-blowingly brilliant players that produce very poor Managers or mediocre players that turn into brilliant Managers!  An incredible observation in business is the amount of times a person gets PROMOTED to a management position, often because they are VERY good at their job… and fall flat on their face!  The amount of training given, if any, is minimal and yet we expect this person to hit the ground running, which clearly is a BIG ask.  New Managers tend to want to come in and ‘make their mark’, changing things instantly.  Now, I am all for CHANGE… but change to improve, not change for the sake of it.

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How much training is purely carried out as a ‘tick-box’ exercise?

If the person has had the fortune previously, to work for a GREAT manager, then a lot of those skills will hopefully have been picked up, yet I have seen it time and time again, where superb employees are given management roles, with no support.  That ‘failing’ then infects the whole team and those with a little ‘get up and go’ tend to do exactly that… GO!  Those that remain generally fall in line with the poor standards, failings and under-achieving that often go with the bad manager.  Consider who has really failed though, the newly promoted manager or the company?

Organisations invest in premises, IT systems, products, marketing (sometimes!), and other essential items, but staff training is often neglected.  Why not make time NOW to invest in your most important asset?

It’s not about cloning our staff into being super slick sales people, but rather enhancing their skills, updating their knowledge and motivating them to achieve even greater success, for both themselves and the organisation.

If you would like to explore the training aspect of your staff but are not sure where to start, then give me a call, under no obligation, and we’ll have a conversation.

For more details of workshops that can help YOU and YOUR business, simply contact us on info@imduk.com

Please feel free to forward and share.

Gary Boyes – Director

IMD (UK) Limited

Bad Manager

 

best practice

How do YOU operate? Minimum Standards or Best Practice?

At what stage should you compromise on quality, in whatever you do? I have long been an advocate of ‘Best Practice’ as opposed to ‘Minimum Standards’ and the majority of people I speak to, agree wholeheartedly with that opinion… yet why, on so many levels do we insist on merely going through the motions, to ‘tick-the-box’ without giving any real thought to the outcome?

Now before the accountants and financiers of this world shoot me down in flames, yes I know and understand there is only so much in the budget (though I would question where and how thought out that budget was initially) and that stakeholders want to see a return on their investment, but how many budgets are simply ‘made-up-numbers’?  It’s a forecast! It’s based on what you think will happen, what the market forces, say (think) will happen and it is based on previous past history and an attempt to see into the future. In effect, it’s a guess!

I well remember when I was in a Sales Team being given my budget and sales target for the following year.  On questioning how my Manager, at the time, had arrived at the figures (which were out of proportion with realism), he started to explain they were all calculated after in-depth analysis.  Upon further questioning, he admitted he had plucked a figure out of the sky and added 10%!! Madness!

The main issue I have with forecasting budgets and targets is that those that hold the purse strings remain inflexible throughout the year, reviewing performance against targets but never changing the budget or target, given the impact of external forces, such as the market, economic influences and in many industries, environmental impact.  I am not for one moment suggesting we shouldn’t be setting targets, goals and budgets, but always be prepared to review and adjust them mid-term.  Consider the LOSS IN BUSINESS that could occur if there was a prime investment opportunity, but you limited your budget because the ‘made up’ forecast said you can only spend £x,000 per month!

Now, budgets and targets aside, wouldn’t you agree that you should strive for the best quality and aim for the best of everything that you possibly can?  Again, I’m not suggesting that you are wasteful, and squander capital, but have a clear vision of the outcome that you want to achieve and then follow the best process to get there.  If you have a sound process then the outcome will take care of itself.

Training and Development on the Gears.

How much TRAINING actually does DEVELOP People? Minimum Standards = Minimum Development.

When it comes to training staff, clearly it would follow that you would strive to get the best trainers that you possibly can.  How do you deem them to be the best?  Well in essence, a trainer must have two major qualities.

  1. Knowledge/Experience of the subject taught
  2. The ability to impart that knowledge in such a way that it is clearly understandable 

It has not gone unnoticed in the past couple of years of the amount of ‘fast track’ courses that potential trainers can attend, sometimes less than one day in duration, gain a certificate that says they have attended and off they go passing this new-found knowledge on, with little or no previous experience, and with the delegates attending the course, totally unaware of the lack of experience the so-called trainer has!  By attending just a couple of half or one-day courses you can apparently be ‘qualified’ to train Manual Handling, Health & Safety and Personal Safety, as an example, without ever having previous experience in these areas! Astounding really, when you think about it.  Therefore the question must be asked, how important is ‘Experience’?

Success Ladder

Climb the ladder of EXPERIENCE.

Consider you are going into hospital for an operation.  Which surgeon would you prefer, the one that finished medical school last week and this is their first operation, or the surgeon that has been carrying out similar operations for the past 10 years.  Both, however, are ‘qualified’!

You’re about to have root canal treatment on your troublesome tooth!  Which dentist would you prefer, the one that has carried out thousands of similar treatments, or the dentist that passed their final exam last week?  Again, both are ‘qualified’!

This of course occurs in every walk of life and experience will be gained on a daily basis, but why compromise your business and livelihood by cutting costs severely and leaving your employees at potential risk of being ‘uneducated’?  Remember, ignorance is no defence!

A large organisation that I have worked with for many years had largely built their success on bringing in specific external trainers to train their staff, using the specialised skill set of the external trainer.  In a move to ‘cut costs’ the internal training team that previously have been used as trainers for ‘generic’ company areas have now been fast tracked to deliver First Aid, Manual Handling, Health & Safety, Personal Safety (surprisingly, they don’t train on breakaway and/or restraint, as their policy is to de-escalate issues before restraint is required… even though they sometimes work in an environment of customers with mental health illness.  They are of course leaving themselves wide-open to criminal charges, should an incident occur)!!  Sadly, and possibly due to having grown too quickly without the right infrastructure in place and poor leadership in some departments, they have resorted to ‘ticking-the-box’ as opposed to quality, sustainable, suitable and sufficient training programmes.

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Is there any REAL value in ‘Ticking-The-Box’?

The term ‘sheep dipping’ is used where all employees are put through a programme, regardless of whether it’s individually needed or not, purely so that when they undergo an inspection, they can show the boxes, duly ‘ticked’.  Remember, as with anything in life, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

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How do YOU operate? Minimum Standards or Best Practice?

Has it cut costs? Yes, undoubtedly, as they potentially have no external training costs and so the procurement department are overjoyed in the budget preservation!  Has it benefitted employees?  That remains to be seen, but of course, just one issue and an ongoing legal investigation could result in court appearances, fines and potentially custodial sentences.  Remember, when you appoint trainers, certainly to train on ‘legally-bound issues’, please ensure they are giving advice that is currently legally accurate and that they are trained to a ‘suitable & sufficient’ level to deliver that information.  The balance sheet may look great and as a Manager who appoints these trainers, be prepared to have pats on your back for saving the company money…. but also be prepared to face the law courts, should an incident occur that happened as a result of putting cost before quality.

Aversely, another organisation I work with has seen tremendous growth, certainly over the past ten years, and in a market that is currently declining, continues to show year on year growth.  Their staff retention, again, in an industry that traditionally has high staff turnover is well below the national average and it will not surprise you to learn that they have a robust, first class training department, using external trainers across all skill sets.  The training delivered is reviewed on a regular basis and continually tweaked and updated to provide the delegates with their specific training requirements.  Employees can clearly see a progression through the company, should they choose to seek promotion, and feel part of the whole team rather than a payroll number.  The training costs to deliver this training are staggering, so why do they do it? Well their return more than outweighs their expenditure.  You see, they consider training costs as an investment in their business rather than a necessity.  They also want the very best return on their investment and by providing the best quality training possible ensure that this part of the jigsaw is taken care of.  Virgin Atlantic are another organisation that invests heavily in their training, even when the market is strained and on a downturn… their philosophy is, when the market picks up again, they are ready and waiting to capitalise!  Perhaps it’s no wonder they are the benchmark in the aviation industry.

Man jump on the sunset day time.

What is a successful life? An accumulation of good days!

Which returns to my original question… At what stage should you compromise on quality?  Review your own organisation, perhaps the one you work for.  What quality has been compromised, purely on a cost basis and how does that reflect on the organisations investment in staff?  We are constantly told that employees are the life-blood of organisations, so by providing poor quality training, how good do the employees feel about themselves and their ‘worth’ to the company?!

Food for thought, indeed, and something to consider over the next few months.

Feel free to drop us a line and share YOUR experiences of Best Practice.

info@imduk.org