Every business owner wants to get the most out of their employees. They’re the face of your company — so for the sake of your revenue and reputation, you need them to represent you well.
But how can you make sure their skills are sharp and they have the best possible chance at doing a great job for your customers?
One way to maximize productivity and performance is through an effective employee training program. Here are some tips to help you jumpstart a training program without too much added stress on your part.
What Is the Goal?
Before you can begin planning out your training sessions, you need to figure out what exactly you want to accomplish.
For example, if there’s a particular task or skill your team needs for better productivity or better results, then your program should be focused on teaching employees this skill or showing them how it’s done.
There may also be certain behaviors you would like to see improved, like interacting with customers in a more professional manner or following certain safety protocols.
If there’s a particular problem you’re seeing that needs improvement, then your training program should focus on fixing this issue.
A great way to uncover where your employees have a gap in their skills/knowledge is to look at your reviews.
Head to Google, Angi’s, Yelp, etc. and see what customers say most frequently about their experience.
If there’s a recurring issue that your customers complain about, then it should be one of your first training focus points.
Who Should Be Involved?
If you run a smaller home service company, the responsibility of planning and leading the training sessions might fall to you.
But there are usually 2 problems with this:
You might not be a good teacher
You might not have the time
I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it’s highly unlikely that you’re an effective teacher in every single area that you need to train on (customer service, sales, safety, technical skills, etc.).
Plus, as a business owner, your time is probably stretched thin already.
I believe it's very important that you have a hand in creating the training program and that you’re aware of the progress your team makes...
But it might be helpful for everyone if you leverage other peoples’ time and experience.
Your managers are usually most fit for this role because they have extensive hands-on experience and they’ve been observing the employees performance for a while. They have rapport with your team and know best which areas need the most improvement.
If you have good managers in place, they will be able to encourage your employees, push them, and give feedback effectively.
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You might also have some superstars on your team who would be interested in taking on the responsibility of training their peers in some way. For example, if one technician excels at accurate troubleshooting, they could lead a training on what their process looks like.
But again, some people are natural born teachers and others are not.
So before assigning yourself, or managers, or employees to lead the training, ask yourself:
Are they passionate about teaching the material?
Do they understand my vision and goals?
Can they communicate well with the team?
Could they do this without becoming stressed or frustrated?
Will the rest of the team respect their authority?
If you answered no to these questions, then your next option is to consider hiring a professional trainer or coach to work with your employees.
They can design and lead the training sessions for you, freeing up your time while producing high-impact results.
How Often Should It Happen?
Before jumping into a one-size-fits-all answer or a complicated schedule, take a step back and consider what works for your business.
Home service companies are unique in that technicians frequently work alone in customer’s homes. They each have their own jobs to do when servicing appliances, heating systems, plumbing systems, etc.
So it can be challenging to pull everyone together during working hours for training.
Instead of worrying about frequent training or big, all-day seminars to cram a lot of information into them, concentrate on consistency.
It’s more important that your employees are learning on a regular, ongoing basis.
It takes time for new information to be absorbed and the brain requires muscle memory to retain skills.
In other words, you have to practice at it.
So even if you can only gather the team once per month, commit to doing that.
And then send out other resources, reminders and follow-ups in between to keep the information fresh in their mind.
Define the Goals of the Training Program
Like I mentioned, it takes time to fully comprehend and learn new information, let alone apply it to daily work.
This is why we’re often tempted to throw a lot of new stuff at people during training sessions. But this can be overwhelming.
If you simply talk at them and hand off a bulleted list of topics or information they should know by the end of the session, most employees will leave confused and overwhelmed.
That’s why it’s crucial to define your training program goals beforehand, and then plan the entire program around them:
Decide on your goals for the program
Map out how many training sessions you plan to have in the next month/quarter/year
Determine what you want employees to know by the end of each session
Identify how long is appropriate per topic
Are you trying to decrease the number of callbacks? If so, what are your expectations for success? Do you want them to see improvement within 1-2 months from when they start using the new information and techniques consistently?
If the answer is yes, then it’s time to do some serious thinking about how you’ll help them achieve these goals.
But that’s only half the battle.
How will you measure success in this area?
You’ll need to be clear on the key performance indicators (KPIs) you want to track and then determine how you’ll measure whether or not your training program is helping.
To be clear:
Having the right goals and understanding what it takes to reach them will do nothing if you don’t communicate those expectations with your team.
Get Employees Excited and Engaged
No one (not even you) wants to sit through a training where they’re bored or feel like it’s not relevant to them.
So make sure you set the tone early on.
Clearly communicate what this program is about, why it matters and what you expect of everyone involved in terms of your goals for improvement.
If employees don’t buy into the program, then there’s no chance they’ll take it seriously when you deliver information; instead, they’ll tune out.
Do you want employees to roll their eyes and groan when they see you walking towards them with training materials in hand?
Of course not.
Invest time, energy, and yes - even money, into planning training activities that will help employees gain more knowledge AND get excited!
Need some great incentive ideas to get people motivated? Click here!
Get employees fired up with fun activities at every session so they look forward to training.
Turn it into a friendly competition to see who learns the most new information in each session.
Include incentives like gift cards, food, or cool branded swag.
Make training interactive so employees are more engaged, rather than having someone drone on at them with PowerPoint slides for two hours.
Even something as simple as watching an entertaining video clip that relates to the topic can get people laughing before diving into the topic at hand.
You can even plan a few special training sessions away from the office, like taking them out to lunch, or attending a conference or seminar at an offsite location.
This can also be an excellent way to boost morale and camaraderie!
Do whatever it takes to get your employees engaged and invested in the training process.
You’ll see big strides in terms of retention when they’re excited about learning new information instead of feeling bored or overwhelmed by it all.
Now tell me what you think: What are your biggest challenges with training employees? Do you have any tips or tricks for getting them excited about learning new things? Share in the comments!