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Training Is The Ultimate Differentiator | Print |  E-mail

The most visible difference that separates the top performing companies is their commitment to continuous training and development of their employees.

That commitment starts with a mindset that employees are not just an expense but also a resource: and a very valuable resource at that.  Training and development are the foundation of successful companies.  The best companies view training and development as an investment as opposed to an expense.

Company’s that view training as an expense, typically cut the budget in a down economy.  Training however is impacted much more by management mindset than by economic factors.  I can’t begin to tell you how many client meetings I have attended where I have heard top management utter the phrase: “Why should we take the time and spend the money on training employees when they’re just going to quit anyways?”

I can tell you from experience that is one of the reasons why employees quit: limited or no opportunities to grow and develop skills.

Know Your Strategic Intent:

A very strong correlation exists between training investment and economic value added (EVA), a performance measure most directly linked to the creation of shareholder wealth over time.  Training is the key link between performance and the mission of the company, since the differentiator is people.

Identify the business goals and initiatives critical to execute your company’s overall strategy.  Then you must consider what capabilities and skills are required to achieve these goals and initiatives; what skills currently exist among your employees and where are the gaps.  This identification assessment helps create a roadmap for success.

Your return on your training investment comes back to you in five areas:

1.    Customer Service:

When you sell the same products and services as your competitors the only advantage you have is customer service.  And you can’t expect good customer service without providing the folks who serve the customers the knowledge and tools to deliver that service.  Investing in people needs to be a central component of your company culture.

2.    Sales:

If you operate retail stores, it’s hard to sell stuff when employees won’t open their mouths and communicate to your customers. (*)  And by the way, the phrase: “Anything else?” is not a suggestive sell, even though some Mystery Shopper reports state otherwise.

Customers are in such a hurry when they visit your stores that they don’t always see or read your point-of-purchase (POP) signage.  Training gives store employees the confidence and skills to effectively promote store promotions and suggest related add-on sales.

3.    Employee Retention:

Lower employee turnover is associated with higher customer satisfaction, and customer satisfaction is a driver of profitability.

Investment in training builds commitment and loyalty: employees leave training with a sense that they have been invested in and that makes them feel that they are with the right company.  It’s surprising how many companies won’t make even a small investment in training, but would rather pay through the nose in employee turnover.  There’s that mindset again!

4.    Employee Recruiting:

Want to be the employer of choice?  What are you offering?  Unless you’re clearly offering the highest wages in the market, you’re not going to distinguish yourself in a job candidate’s mind.  Studies have shown that many job candidates will work for a lower salary if they’re offered training opportunities for skill development and personal growth.

5.    Teamwork & Morale:

Employees have greater levels of self-esteem and pride when they see the company is investing in their growth and development.  They feel good about themselves and their company.

© 2009 Employee Performance Strategies Inc.
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