Take Time to Train Your Employees
By Floyd Adler, Training Account Manager, Signature Worldwide
TRAIN:To teach, to guide, and to prepare—also, to do exercise or preparation; an order of occurrence designed to lead to some result; to direct the growth, to aim at an object or an objective.
This article should not only be titled “Take Time to Train Your Employees,” but also “Make Time to Train Your Employees!” This subject, not only for the company but for the employee, is probably the one that receives the least attention, but it is one that, if handled correctly, could achieve maximum success. Up-front and continued training for your staff undoubtedly will result in more positive attitudes and comfort in knowing what is expected of them in their job role. I believe everyone wants to succeed and be profitable in what they do, but why do some succeed and others fail? Training and motivation!
No Second Chances
Take a look at your company—do you currently have a process in place for training? Is it consistent? Does everyone responsible for training know the exact process each new employee should go through on a day-by-day basis, especially during his or her first week?
Keep in mind that this is probably the most excited a newbie staff member will be and you cannot afford to miss the mark with him or her, especially in the early stages. It is difficult—nearly impossible—to get a second chance at making a great first impression. People are functionally like a bicycle. Unless they are moving onward and upward (through training) toward an objective or goal, they are more likely to falter and fail. We expect the best from everyone in our organization, but are we confident that we provide the best training and development programs to each employee?
My uncle, who I deeply respect, relayed information to me that I have remembered and continue to follow. He told me years ago that “even though I will always be frugal in what expenses I approve, I quit worrying about how much it costs to train my employees. I am more concerned with how much an untrained employee could cost me.” Wow, what a powerful statement and lesson.
Zig Ziglar quoted this statement in the past, but it still pertains to today: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you train him how to fish, you feed him for life.” Both of these statements go back to our consistent training process in that we cannot just “take” time to train, but we should consistently “make” time to train our employees.
Genius Rats vs. Average Rats
Several years ago, Dr. Robert Rosenthal at Harvard University conducted an intriguing series of training experiments involving three groups of students and three groups of rats. He informed the first group of students, “You’re in luck. You are going to be working with genius rats. These rats have been bred and trained for intelligence and are extremely bright. They will get to the end of the maze in nothing flat and eat lots of cheese, so buy plenty.”
The second group was told, “Your rats are just average, not too bright, not too dumb, just a bunch of average rats. They eventually will get to the end of the maze and eat some cheese, but don’t expect too much from them. They are ‘average’ in ability and intelligence, so their performance will be average.”
He then told the third group of students, “These rats are really bad. If they find the end of the maze, it will be by accident and design. They are really idiots, so naturally they will be low in performance. I am not certain you should even buy cheese. Just paint a sign at the end of the maze that says ‘cheese.’”
In the next six weeks, the students conducted experiments regarding the results of the rats. The genius rats performed like geniuses and reached the end of the maze in short order. The average rats—well, what do you expect from a bunch of average rats? They made it to the end, but they did not set any speed records in the process. The idiot rats, oh, brother, were they ever sad. They had real difficulty, and when one did find the end of the maze, it was obviously an accident and not a “plan.”
In conclusion, there were no genius rats or idiot rats. They were all average rats, actually out of the same litter. The difference in performance was the direct result of the training and expectation of the students.
How we are trained and what we learn early on, is demonstrated in our performances long after the initial training. Develop a consistent plan, follow the plan, and make sure you continually make time to train your employees!
Floyd Adler is a training account manager for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For more information, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature on Twitter @SignatureWorld, on Facebook and LinkedIn.