VI. Train employees and encourage learning

team-114655_640As Sergeant Stryker (John Wayne) said in The Sands of Iwo Jima, “Life is tough, but it’s even tougher if you’re stupid.”  It is harsh language but the concept rings true.  The good news is that employees can overcome workplace stupidity if they are given proper training and they are committed to learn.

When I graduated from college with my degree in accounting, there really was no technology requirement.  I learned how to use a ten-key adding machine at my first job.  The computing power that now resides in an iPad is more than all the computers that occupied the data processing building at my alma mater when I graduated.  It is absolutely true that if I had not continued to learn, my job opportunities would be severely limited.  As a CPA, I am required by the State of California to keep my accounting skills and knowledge current by receiving Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits from classes that I take annually.  I also have to be proficient with a computer and business software to remain relevant in today’s business world.

Almost all jobs require initial training and ongoing learning.  Employees are more confident and comfortable if they are properly trained.  Customers receive a higher quality product/service from properly trained employees.  It has been said, “Hire the smile and train the rest.”  This philosophy works when the employee has the capacity and the inclination to learn and the company does, indeed, train the rest.  Another adage states, “Energy is more important than IQ.”  However, the employee’s energy must be focused on learning the very best job skills.  Also, in order for employees to advance in their job, they must show confidence.  Confidence is only worthwhile if accompanied by competence.  In summary, every good employee must have the proper attitude, training and experience.  Good employers play an important role in all these attributes.

I have worked with a number of companies that emphasize training and learning.  Training includes on-the-job training, formal trainers that are brought in to teach specific topics from time to time, paid college tuition programs and establishing personal learning objectives at every annual performance review. Employees at those companies appreciate the training that is provided and often cite the training programs as one of the most important benefits that the company offers.

I once attended a seminar by Robin Sharma, a motivational speaker and best-selling author on the topic of leadership.  He said, “Your number one goal is to grow leaders faster than your competitors.”  An important element of training is to train the next generation of leaders at your workplace.  If you look around and find no one qualified to take over the business, the fault is that of the current leadership.

The key elements of training for succession are: 1) Find the talent, 2) Train the talent, 3) Pay the talent enough to keep the talent, and 4) Include the talent in transition plan development.

Training is essential to a successful business.  A good leader will promote training and learning at all levels.  The benefits are to keep the employees skills relevant, to increase employee satisfaction, to provide the best possible product to the customer and to prepare the company for the future.

Olympic athletes train for a lifetime to be one hundredth of a second faster than their competitors.  They train for peak performance.  Do the same – don’t be stupid.

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