Part of your hiring budget should include training expenses. Untrained staff is a waste of money, and you will spend more effort fixing their mistakes than if you had offered training. Also, your marketing may bring you new customers, but poor service will cause you to lose them.

You can train your new hires with a little preparation and a lot of care about building their skills and knowledge. A simple training program will put you in a position to capture market share by keeping customers.

These tips will help you get the most out of your training efforts:

Find Your Employees’ Learning Styles

Most people will learn in one major mode: by seeing, hearing, or doing. In addition, some like to read instructions. Others may prefer to have someone tell them what to do. They also may want to learn alone, or in groups. This means you can’t type up information and hand it out and expect your staff to retain it. You need to present training in a variety of ways, sometimes even repeating information you already covered in another format. This gives each trainee more than one chance to learn the material.

To reach all types of learners, divide training materials into reading matter, videos, e-learning, and workshops.

Reading Materials

Printed pieces work best when you want employees to keep information and refer to it on the job. This can include job aids that list steps in procedures, as well as checklists to make sure staff completes all parts of a task, and policies your company expects personnel to follow.

This approach allows you to give employees a lot of information without asking them to remember all of it after reading it once. Job aids, checklists, and policy sheets provide the opportunity for employees to look at them while working. This will reinforce the behaviors you want.

Manuals can work well, but you must ask yourself how much reading your staff will do off the job. A lengthy manual may go unread. Provide a quiz at the end of the manual that employees must pass before they can start their duties. This will help make sure they read it.


Videos

Some learners need to see tasks, and videos allow you to show the way you want things done. You don’t need to spend a lot of money making a video. In fact, most smartphones shoot high-quality video. Ask one of your best employees to perform tasks as you film, and visual learners will understand what you expect of them.

If you don’t want to shoot your own video, you can use of those that are on YouTube. You can find many videos that demonstrate software, inventory tasks, customer service approaches, and office procedures, to give a few examples. Make sure to watch these videos closely to see if they fit in with your standards and practices.

eLearning

This type of learning lets users interact with the information on the computer screen. Your presentation can give them the chance to respond if you create a survey or quiz. You can make these for free using resources such as Survey Monkey.

Your learners will check off the answers to questions, and you can use multiple choice and true/false questions. Some people learn better when they can take some kind of action. Your “test” will work as a teaching tool, especially if you allow participants to repeat it as many times as they need to.

You may consider a learning source such as Lynda.com or Skillsoft. These sites cost money to join, but they have a variety of eLearning presentations, sometimes covering several days’ worth of material.

training your staff

Workshops

A group workshop gives you time to see your staff show their knowledge of procedures. Don’t turn your workshop into a lecture. This should be an opportunity for trainees to role-play.

Ask employees to act out various roles, such as a customer or a manager. Also, give them a variety of scenarios to act out, such as dealing with a complaining customer or handling delays in delivering goods or services. This will give learners the chance to think from other points of view than their own.

Make it easier for shy people by demonstrating the role yourself, or by having more outgoing people go first. Allow scenes to repeat. Ask others to do the same scenario to see how they would handle it.

A workshop is not a free-for-all. Making up scenes as you go won’t help you target the behaviors you want. Instead, write down your goals for the workshop and develop scenarios that will reinforce the behaviors you want.

Repetition

Just because you taught something doesn’t mean everyone learned it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking training is a one-time event that does not need to be repeated. Repeat training often, and require even your best employees to participate in second and third training sessions. You can also schedule training every six months, or annually, so that everyone reinforces their learning.

Growing Your Business

With training in place, you can grow your business confidently. Your well-trained staff will help you retain the customers you gain through your marketing efforts.

The Bottom Line

Your biggest expense for training comes from wages you pay for employees to attend sessions. You can reduce your costs by making it as self-paced as you can. This would include job aids, videos, and e-learning. Keep your workshop down to an hour, and your expenses will remain low.

Don’t make training an afterthought. You spend five times more money to gain a new customer than you do to retain an existing one. Your training program will help you hold on to the new business you acquire.

Read other articles on Recruiting for Small Business

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