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Creating Exceptional Training Programs

(May 2017) posted on Mon Jun 05, 2017

How to create standard operating procedures for best business practices.

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By Marty McGhie

Imagine we are commissioning a study of training practices within the graphics industry. We begin with the following question: “Does your company provide employee training?” We would likely see a response of “yes” by more than 90 percent of those polled. However, suppose we change the question to the following: “Does your company provide a formalized training plan for all departments that includes regularly scheduled education and the implementation of up-to-date standard operating procedures?” We can safely assume the number of positive responses would drop dramatically. In regard to your training program, like most others, your company probably finds itself somewhere between those two points on the spectrum. How can you ensure your training program has a significant impact on your business?

Perhaps the biggest difference in a quality training program versus an ad hoc approach begins with the formalization of training. Frankly, every company does training in some fashion. Even if it’s unintentional, when a relatively new employee works next to an experienced employee, naturally there’s knowledge passed along. However, that’s not always a good thing. What if the knowledge shared by the experienced employee is inefficient or even incorrect? That experience and knowledge could be based more on tradition than on actual best practices.

The following story illustrates my point. A newly married bride decided to prepare her husband a grand meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, and fresh vegetables. Her husband couldn’t help but notice as she prepared the roast, she cut both ends off. A bit puzzled, he asked her why she did that. She replied that she wasn’t sure, but while growing up she saw her mother always cut the ends off so, naturally, that’s the way the roast must be prepared. Now, even more curious, the husband talked his new bride into asking her own mother the same question. Her reply was the same. She didn’t really know – she just knew that her mother always did the same thing. Seeking final resolution, the new bride called her grandmother and asked her why she cut the ends off her roast all those years. She replied with a simple answer: the roasting pan she had was just too short, so, of course, she had to cut down the roast.