Formalized training should begin at the top of the ladder.
By Marty McGhie
But we also have gone out-of-house, utilizing outside
resources as "guest speakers" at some of our training sessions.
Often, people outside of your organization will provide a unique
view on a subject that otherwise may be received as "the same
old stuff" if taught by someone within the organization. For
example, you could bring in someone with extensive sales
experience to share his or her perspective on how to interact
with their customers, how to develop sales leads, how to retain
customers, etc. While you may be able to tackle these subjects
within your own management group, utilizing a variety of
resources can be a very effective approach to your training.
Another way to invigorate a training program is to intermingle
personnel from all your departments into a training
session. This works particularly well with general subject matter:
If you have a training topic that a large group or all of your
employees need, divide the training up into smaller groups and
organize the groups with representatives from every company
department. This ensures that your employees have a chance
to mingle with various people in your organization and to do so
in a different setting from the standard one.
Who do you train?
One of the challenges of training is deciding who exactly do you
train in your organization and when you train them. The answers
are: a) everyone, and, b) all the time.
Let's begin at the top of the ladder: Your philosophy should
be that every manager must be in the process of training his or
her replacement. This may seem threatening to some, but it's
the only way people within your organization can grow. How
many times have you had a key employee quit, only to find that
you have no one even close to being qualified to replace them?
That is a direct reflection on your training program.
Nor can your sales force ever have enough training. In
addition to training them in sales skills, make certain they are
trained in the technical aspects of your business. In our industry,
the most successful sales reps are the ones that have the
technical expertise to "talk the talk." Your customers demand
it"?and if they don't get it from your sales rep, they will find
someone else who does.
Establishing successful training programs at the management
and sales levels will make it easier to get additional training
programs off the ground and running. Remember, every
employee at every level needs some training.
Marty McGhie (firstname.lastname@example.org) is VP finance/
operations of Ferrari Color, a digital-imaging center with
Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento locations.