If you’ll be taking on new staff in 2018, now is the time to plan ahead. Paula West of B:Exceptional, shares her top ten tips for small business owners.
“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” Henry Ford
Employees are your company’s most important assets and there is no business which doesn’t need highly skilled specialists on their team. Their training and professional development is something you should invest in heavily, but it doesn’t have to be expensive or lengthy.
- Recruit the right people. Start by engaging people with passion, motivation and a positive growth mind-set. Align interview questions with your company values/culture and competencies.
- On-board and welcome staff with purposeful and informative induction training. Train new personnel early to embed the right disciplines and attitude. Make it fun and engaging, instilling a passion for your business so everyone becomes an ambassador. Share real-life stories about your heritage from colleagues and customers. Specifically build knowledge on the past, present and future of the business. Try using all your senses: hear from senior leaders and specialist speakers; create videos and apps using music and powerpoint; design imaginative handouts and short, fun exercises and use a buddy system to support ongoing peer-group development. Always support new employees in their first 90 days with clear action plans.
- Implement bite-sized training. Short, targeted training works well for any size of company. Delivery should be in a fresh, passionate, results-driven style that challenges the status quo of individuals and teams. Aim to leave people feeling motivated, confident and empowered with pragmatic ideas, tactics and a selection of accelerated learning methods that deliver targets and achieve goals. Maintain a ‘fun with serious intent’ approach.
- Communicate your vision and purpose: Smart business owners share their mission statement and values with staff to remind their teams why their company exists. Bring the vision to life with powerful imagery to support your executive sentence. When training on strategy/vision begin workshops with a quiz to gauge alignment and finish the same way to embed the key messages. Consider the Why and the How as well as the What, and exemplify how your employees will drive results. Everyone should understand where your company is heading so they can focus on its goals and future aspirations. Use strong, concrete and inspirational language to make it clear what your values mean and how they represent your business.
- Build relationships. Building relationships within your teams, customers and suppliers is crucial as, at its heart, every interaction is a personal one. Trust plays a key role in building business relationships so create network opportunities, implement team-day events and conduct team briefings regularly.
- Hold regular performance reviews. Be SMART: set measurable and clear goals; cascade KPIs and objectives from the top down; hold regular informal and formal reviews, be proactive and encourage two-way feed-back. Align training to development plans by identifying individual training needs rather than sheep-dipping. Encourage a desire for continuous learning from workshops to self-help so individuals can learn at their own pace. When training and up-skilling employees conduct robust and credible demonstrations rather than role-plays (no one likes these!) and constructive observation with concise feedback in ‘stop/start/continue’ format. Learn how to use performance management systems via online training or co-facilitate your in-house performance systems with an expert/specialist learning provider to ensure content design and delivery is robust and accurate. Ensure objectives align clearly to the mission.
- Encourage clear and concise communication, both written and verbal. Effective communication is a must for any business, helping to foster a good working relationship between you and your employees, and improving morale and efficiency. Communication skills workshops can be made fun with short, interactive, paired and in-group exercises, incorporating video feedback, games and question cards.
- Build resilience and grit. These are key ingredients in any business as change is inevitable, but being able to quickly adapt to disruptions while maintaining continuous business operations isn’t easy. Resilience can be taught by using three key tactics (different perspective; rationale; flipside) and practising them within peer-group learning. Explore each individual’s characteristics through personality and psychometric questionnaires.
- Ensure the creation of positive first impressions. It is vital for your teams to have presence and impact with their colleagues, suppliers and customers. Observe and identify characteristics from known proponents to use as role models. Build confidence and impact by initially working in pairs, then smaller groups and then building up to larger groups when practising your impact on each other.
- Encourage and empower people to make decisions and take risks, be creative and problem solve. Share decision-making tools and techniques and let your staff practice in a safe training environment using real data. Undertake case studies to illustrate the impact or consequences of both good and bad decision-making. Coach and mentor your people and guide them to make calculated decisions with constructive feedback if things go wrong. Encourage them to learn from mistakes. Set and monitor Action Plans.
Most of all, set the right tone by investing in the training of your employees. Following the above tips should increase employee engagement, encouraging happy staff that are passionate about your company and motivated to do more to bring themselves, and you, success.
B:Exceptional Ltd offers a broad portfolio of interactive bite-sized workshops ranging from 90 minute to three hours that address all your needs, including Induction, Having Impact, MBTI, Exceptional Customer Service, Be One Team, Influencing Others, Decision Decisions, Handling Challenging Conversations, Performance Reviews and Development Plans plus many more! Paula has a proven track record in delivering people transformation and peak performance with a broad variety of prestigious companies including M&S, Harrods, Brora, Vodafone and London Business School. Feel free to contact Paula to find out more and how she can personally help your business develop and grow.
Contact Paula West, director of Learning and Development at B:Exceptional Ltd by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or go to https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulajwest.