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The Employee-Training Track

Proper training can make your business run more efficiently.




Anyone who has ever held down a job has certainly been involved, at some point, with a training program.

Whether you were a trainer, a trainee, or possibly both, it’s likely that your experiences with various training programs are all over the scale in terms of effectiveness. No doubt, if asked, we would all mention training as an important part of our business, but just how helpful is your training program to your company? Let’s examine some ideas that might help you improve this critical area of your business. Let me begin by describing what might be considered an example of a typical small-business training program.

In this scenario, a new employee receives some initial training in the fi rst weeks on the job. This training is likely to be taught by either a supervisor or a fellow technician. It could be described like this: “This is the way we do this task. Try it out, and let me know if you have any questions. It’s really pretty easy.” Or, if your employees describe their past training with phrases such as, “on-the-job training,” “thrown into the fire,” “just pointed me in the right direction and said go for it,” or “threw me to the wolves,” then you probably aren’t that different from most small businesses. Nonetheless, you may want to reevaluate your approach to employee training. Let’s look at three suggestions that might help.

Formal and accessible
First, structure a formal training program for all departments in your organization. A formal plan should bewritten out and easily accessible either by hard copy or electronically. The key word here is accessible. Countless companies have developed and documented great training programs, but the problem is no one knows where the programs are, and as such, they are never used. Involve your key personnel in the development of your program, and utilize your best people to not only train, but also to structure and document the curriculum. There is no better way to get their commitment to the program.

An extensive and effective training program cannot realistically be developed in a couple of weeks, but once you begin to formalize your training program, you will have made a big leap. Then, as time passes, your programs will continue to improve, and your training processes and curriculum will become a more effective part of your business.

Integration and commitment
The second suggestion is to integrate your training
program as a critical part of your business. This requires a complete commitment from ownership, senior management, department supervisors, technicians, and staff. In other words, everyone. I may be stating the obvious, but no matter how well-developed your training program might be, if your managers aren’t committed to the process it will never be successful.


The most effective way to achieve this is to have training programs at every organizational level. Senior management should always be training the next level of management, department heads should be training the supervisors, supervisors then train the technicians, and so forth.

When it comes to training, a common mistake made by organizations is that they forget to train the trainers. If this happens, then your training will only be as effective as the skills of your trainers, who have either been taught by someone else or never trained at all. It is not a good idea to structure your training on this ad-hoc basis. Once your employees see that training is an essential part of your business and is taken seriously at all levels, commitment to your program will occur.

Accountability and recognition
The final suggestion is to require accountability in the process. If your employees are properly trained but never held accountable to that training, why bother? Earlier, I mentioned the need to document your training program. For example, detail the steps in each training program, and then put together a record for each employee that tracks the various training programs they have successfully completed.

Require both the trainer and the trainee to sign off on each training program as it’s completed. I would recommend that these documents be kept in the employee’s personnel file. This will become useful in a few ways: First, it provides you, as a manager, with a detailed record of each employee’s training history. Second, and perhaps more importantly, you have now held both the trainee and the trainer formally responsible for the training.

Proper documentation is only part of the accountability concept. Set up your organizational discipline-and-reward system around your training program. For instance, as employees make mistakes, go back with them and revisit their training. Perhaps the mistake was a lack of or misunderstanding of the training. If this is indeed the case, then you need to not only fi x the problem with the employee, but you also have to resolve the problems with your training process. Granted, more often than not, mistakes will be made due to a lapse in judgment or lack of attention, but as long as the training process holds people accountable, it will always be viewed by your employees as a key part of their job.

Likewise, you should reward your people for following the training. Each annual or semi-annual review should examine past training and discuss training that will be part of the upcoming year. It should be widely understood among employees at all levels that those who follow their training will be rewarded above those who don’t. In our company, we’ve often integrated a small pay raise with the completion of a new employee’s training. That can send a positive message that you take the company’s training programs seriously.


It is really rather easy to convince someone of the importance of training in his or her business. The challenge is getting them to execute an effective training strategy that becomes an integral part of daily operations and, as a result, long-term success. Consider the suggestions here and determine which areas of your company training might be improved. Strengthening your training can only enhance your company’s current and future success.

MARTY MCGHIE is VP finance/operations of Ferrari Color, a digital-imaging center with Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento locations. Nationally recognized, Ferrari Color is the blend of two companies, Creative Color and Ferrari Color, which came together in 2001. The company offers high-quality largeand grand-format photo, inkjet, fabric, and UV printing. [email protected].




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