Training employees is one of the most important aspects of "building a business that works" (a phrase we use at EMyth to emphasize that a business that truly works is a systems-based, turn-key operation that works without you). Too often business leaders do not appreciate the value of employee training and neglect to devote the necessary time and resources to creating effective employee training systems for their business.
The way we do it here
If your goal is to have a well-orchestrated, results-oriented business that is systems dependent not people dependent, then you'll need to carefully document all the key systems your business needs to succeed. You'll need to hire people who are willing and able to operate your systems, and you'll need to train your employees so that they can produce your desired results consistently and predictably. At EMyth, we refer to this as establishing "the way we do it here."
Employee training is critical to defining and communicating "the way we do it here" for your employees. As a business leader, it is your job to make your business a game worth playing, and the only games that truly are worth playing are the ones you can teach your employees how to play well, and better yet, how to win! Your employee training systems accomplish this by empowering your people to operate your systems and integrate into your company culture successfully. Employee training also allows managers to be absolutely clear about what their reporting employees should be doing and any specific requirements they might need to get the job done.
Training is about delegation, not abdication
Many businesses are fraught with people problems (see our article The people problem). Many business simply aren't producing the results they could be. We've worked with tens of thousands of clients, and more often than not, these challenges can be traced back to inadequate employee training. The good news: with the proper attention and intention given to training employees, many of these business frustrations can be eliminated.
It is not enough to hire 'expert' employees and then expect they'll know how to get things done the way you want. You can't simply cross your fingers and hope that your people will eventually figure out what you want them to do. In order to responsibly delegate to your employees (see our article Delegation vs. abdication) and ensure they know precisely what you want them to do and how you want them to do it, you'll need effective employee training systems.
Building your employee training systems
Employee training is an essential management function for every business, but what does employee training look like, what do you actually need to train and how do you do it? Of course, the answer to these questions will be different for every business, but every successful business will find a way to answer them.
In general, every person who occupies a position in your organization needs to be trained on how to meet the expected results and accomplish the essential tasks assigned to their position. It might be a receptionist that needs training on how to answer the phone and greet people properly, a salesperson who needs training on how to convert leads into customers, or a CFO who needs training on how and when to produce financial reports.
Whatever the case may be, training will involve practice and rehearsal so that your employees can become fluent in what they need to do. Training allows employees to make mistakes behind the scenes as part of the learning process, to work through the kinks and build confidence so that when they are on center stage... they can shine! It also involves making sure your employees understand the big picture about what they do. Part of your responsibility as the leader is to make sure every one understands the roll they play in your Strategic Objective (see our article Engaging employees in your strategic objective). In other words, your employees need to learn what to do, how to do it, and why to do it. If your training systems are designed properly, your employees will be able to handle both predictable and unpredictable situations appropriately.
It cannot be overstated that in order for your employees to produce the results you want them to, all the key systems for your business need to be documented — including your employee training systems. This is the only way you can formulate an intentional strategy for success in all areas of your business, and the only way to know exactly what you need your employees to do and what to train them on. Your employees will have a hard time achieving consistent and predictable results without documented systems, and your managers will have a hard time training employees to achieve results without documented training systems.
What's the return on investment?
Developing effective employee training systems requires a significant investment of time, money and resources, but it's well worth it. The return on this investment comes in the form of an orchestrated business that works; a business in which everyone knows what to do and how to do it; a business in which people are so proficient at what they do that they are free to express all of their energy and creativity in the process of doing the best job possible, and free to explore the only real question left to answer: how can we do it better?
Share your story
Have you developed employee training systems? How has it helped your business? Post a comment and tell us about it.