Effective Employee Training Methods for Your Small Business: What You Need to Know
What’s the most effective employee training method for your SMB? Why should you make training a priority for your organization? What best practices should you focus on as a small business employer to make sure that you’re getting effective training for your employees?
As an employer, it’s quite possible that you’ve had these questions in the past, especially depending on the industry you’re in. This blog is here to help you answer these questions. Let’s talk about why you need effective employee training, the various methods you can consider, best practices to keep in mind, and tools that can help you get started.
Why Does Your SMB Need Effective Employee Training?
Small- to medium-sized business owners and managers are often tasked with deciding where and how to spend precious resources, and the question around training fits into this dilemma. When a business is small and has need for agility, is training worth the time and investment it requires?
The answer is a resounding YES. Training is what allows companies to close the gap between an employee’s current performance and their potential performance.
For new hires, training is essential to maximize the investment you have made in this new employee, but training is also very important for current employees, for three main reasons:
Mistakes will inevitably happen, but good training can reduce the number of mistakes, while also ensuring that the employee reacts properly when the mistake occurs. Sometimes it isn’t the mistake itself but the reaction that can really make or break a situation.
When a company shows their employees that they are invested in their personal and professional growth, it encourages the employee to give their best to that organization. A clearer understanding of the role and how to do it is more likely to lead to higher job satisfaction, which, in turn, leads to better service for your customers and higher revenue for you.
Companies that have loyal, satisfied employees will have less turnover. High turnover is always costly for companies, both financially and in terms of morale; training that encourages the professional development of employees will go a long way towards a positive office culture.
Training, when done right, will always be a worthy investment for SMB businesses, particularly ones that are focused on growth. In fact, a recent Forbes article using data from Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses study found that “small business owners who invest in training are more likely to report growing, and more likely to report growing more.” Training is good for employees, but it is good for the company too.
Effective Employee Training Methods for Your Small Business
Sorting through all the employee training methods available to you can be a little confusing. Should you splurge and bring in an instructor? Or is it better to get your employees to do online training? What’s the difference between online-based e-learning vs. an in-person interactive training session?
In this section, we’ll give you more details on five of the most effective employee training methods:
Even with the vast number of technological advances that we’ve experienced as a society, classroom or instructor-led training remains one of the most effective employee training methods out there. Classroom and Instructor-Led training takes the traditional blackboard or whiteboard approach, allowing dialogue between the employees and the instructor (or facilitator) to take place while the instructor teaches. PowerPoint presentations, overhead projectors, manuals, guidelines, videos, or other such tools and methods can also be used during these sessions to assist the instructor in teaching your employees.
Hands-on training is an effective employee training method that is much less formal than the others we’ll talk about in this section. With hands-on training, your employees get training while they’re on the job, with the training coming from either their supervisor, manager, or a veteran worker who’s been doing the job for a while.
Also known as experiential training, hands-on training focuses more on the individual needs of your new employee, being customized and specific to what they need to know to do their job effectively. An example of hands-on training is an apprenticeship program, which can give the employee an opportunity to learn a particular skillset, to be applied to the job they’ve been hired for or future jobs they may take.
Hands-on training is highly specific to the person being trained and the job they’re training for.
Although there is major emphasis placed on human interaction when it comes to training, the reality is, technology has become more and more widespread, and training your employees can be greatly enhanced by implementing technological solutions. That’s where computer-based training comes into play.
This type of training relies on CD-ROMs or multimedia training materials like video, animations, virtual reality, graphics, or text-only training materials to convey your messaging to your employees. Computer-based training is one of the most cost-effective options out there, because you can purchase the training program as-is and allow your employees to work at their own pace.
E-Learning or online-based training is becoming more and more prevalent because of the increased accessibility of the Internet. E-learning or online-based training keeps employees engaged and involved by helping to break down the training into smaller, more manageable chunks.
E-learning or online-based training can take on many forms, such as how-to videos, tutorials, on-demand webinars, or full courses that you can access online. Relying heavily on visual cues to keep people engaged, this form of training can be as interactive as you’d like it to be.
Like computer training, e-learning or online-based training allows for flexible learning schedules, enabling people to consume the content they need exactly when they need it.
Probably one of the most engaging methods, interactive training uses group discussions to open dialogue between new employees and your employees who are more knowledgeable about the organization and the role. This open discussion allows for brainstorming opportunities, and the chance to clear up any misconceptions, issues, or confusion that the new employee might have.
During interactive training, effective employee training methods like demonstrations, case studies, quizzes, Q&A sessions, summaries, role playing, question cards, and more, can be used to get your new employees ready for their roles. These tools and techniques are not for everyone (especially those employees who are more introverted), but overall, they can make training more enjoyable and more memorable for your employees, which leads to easier recollection later on.
Selecting the Right Effective Employee Training Method(s):
Selecting the most effective employee training method for your organization comes down to your individual employees. They all have different ways of learning, and you need to match up methods with those learning styles. Also, consider the type of organization you have and the corporate culture that’s in place.
Does your organization have a lot of remote workers? Consider e-learning or (in some cases) computer training. Have a group of very extroverted sales professionals? They might flourish in an interactive training session. Have a lot of tactile learners in your organization? A hands-on learning method could be quite successful for them. Sometimes it’s a combination of more than one learning method – that’s okay, too!
Effective Employee Training Methods: Best Practices to Keep in Mind
We’ve established that training is critical for SMBs that are focused on growth and success, but the type and quality of training is just as important. Below, we list out some of the training Best Practices that make up a successful training implementation:
Best Practice #1 – Reinforcement
Effective sales training cannot be a single event – people need reinforcement and periodic upgrading as well as advice and guidance on adapting skills to new circumstances.
Best Practice #2 – Consistency
Training is important to ensure that there is a consistent message and understanding of organizational goals across the company.
Best Practice #3 – Measurement
Is the training you’re using effective or not? Without metrics to measure the success of the training initiative, you won’t know. In the case of salespeople, who are often very goal-oriented, it’s important that there is motivation and direction for them.
Best Practice #4 – Customization
Training is valuable. Period. But within that statement there are levels of value, and customized training will be near the top if it is something you are able to arrange. Each company is unique and will have its own set of unique challenges for training to address. Rather than using a big one-size-fits-all training curriculum, ensure that your training is at least partially devoted to the particular needs of your company.
Best Practice #5 – Understand the Needs of your Company
Start by understanding exactly what you are hoping to get out of the training. If you don’t know where to start, an excellent way to understand where the gaps in your training exist is to go through the job descriptions for the positions at your company and highlight the skills/needs that need development.
Best Practice #6 – Segmentation
Do not try to do all your training at once. If you try to cram all your training into two all day sessions, your employees will likely lose a lot of what they have learned. Instead, break up the training into manageable portions that are more likely to see the information retained and implemented.
Best Practice #7 – Mentorship
Implementing a mentorship program in your company is an excellent way to use training from within by capitalizing on the skills and knowledge of your senior employees.
Best Practice #8 – Actionable Next Steps
At the end of any training sessions there should be actionable next steps that ensure employees are implementing what they have learned into their day-to-day work.
Effective Employee Training Methods: Tools You Can Use
Now, let’s take a look at what training tools you can utilize in your organization. Here are a few key examples that we recommend:
Type of Training: Video
About The Tool: Through integration with the Microsoft collaboration apps that you’re most comfortable with (like Yammer, Teams, or SharePoint), Microsoft Stream helps organizations like yours to create, discover, and share videos across your employee network. This makes it a great tool to use when you’re working on video training of your staff. Need to train employees on the newest health and safety policy that you’re releasing? Upload a video of it into Microsoft Stream and reach your entire company with ease!
Customer Immersion Experience
Type of Training: Classroom or Instructor-Led Training
About the Tool: A Customer Immersion Experience provides an opportunity to be hands-on with various Microsoft products and services. Meant to show you what the Microsoft Cloud productivity suite has to offer, the Customer Immersion Experience also gives you a high-level overview of the features of various Microsoft technologies, such as Office 365, Skype for Business, Windows 10, Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, Exchange, and more. Held at your nearest Microsoft facility, this free engagement walks you through “a day in the life of…”, letting you explore various technologies that you might not have considered previously. Paid engagements are also available, if you need more specific training.
Type of Training: E-Learning or Online-Based Training
About the Tool: WalkMe is a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) that provides step-by-step instructions for various online processes in the browser window that the user has open. Let’s say, for example, you’re implementing Dynamics 365 in your organization. Rather than pulling your employees into a half day of training (which takes them away from their job), WalkMe can provide easy onboarding and adoption of Dynamics 365 through integrated contextual guidance. A guidance layer of pop-ups and prompts can help walk your employees through the steps they need to perform to fill out a Contact, Account, Lead, etc., without any changes being made to the actual system itself.
This blog post is co-authored by ProServeIT and Change Connect. We publish a monthly blog specifically written for small businesses. Some of the topics we have discussed include security, CRM, Cloud computing, Small Business Tools, marketing and Business Intelligence (BI). Click here to view a list of our previous co-authored blogs for small businesses.