I'm a bit behind on listening to podcasts.
For instance, I've just finished episode 91 of Crack the Customer Code, a wonderful podcast hosted by Adam Toporek and Jeannie Walters. The current episode is #255.
Ironically, the title of episode 91 is "How to Find Time for Training."
One of the topics Adam and Jeannie discussed was restaurants and retailers like Chipotle and Starbucks that shut down the entire operation to conduct employee training.
As Adam points out in the episode, "That's great for a reset," but shutting down the entire business for training is more of a statement than a long-term solution. And many smaller businesses may find it too economically difficult to close down completely.
Trying to train employees while the business continues to run can be an exercise in creative scheduling and challenging logistics.
It's difficult, but not impossible. Here's what you can do.
Step 1: Focus on What You Need
Many leaders mistakenly believe the challenge is figuring out how long the training should be, who should deliver the training, and when can it be scheduled.
This approach neglects one key decision: what training do you actually need?
My analysis suggests that training often addresses just one percent of the problem's root cause! Why worry about how long the training should be if it's such a small part of the issue?
Imagine you wanted to help your team do a better job of serving angry customers. Here are just a few contributing factors that have nothing to do with training:
- Can you use voice of customer feedback to improve common problems?
- Do customers have access to self-help solutions to simple issues?
- Are employees empowered to resolve typical complaints?
Training won't address any of those.
Now, imagine you first implemented some solutions. You reduced product defects, beefed up self-help, and empowered employees with better policies and procedures to serve their customers.
You might still need training, but now you'd need a lot less.
A client once asked me to conduct training to help its call center employees sound more friendly over the phone. I did some research and spent just a little time talking to the employees. It turned out the call center was severely understaffed several times during the week and wait times expanded up to 30 minutes.
The employees sounded curt because they were in a hurry to get to the next customer!
I was able to help the client solve the problem just be reconfiguring the schedule so staffing levels better matched call volume. This solution eliminated much of the wait time and employees were more relaxed.
The employees suddenly sounded a lot friendlier and we didn't do any training at all.
Step 2: Embrace the 70-20-10 Rule
When most people think of training, they imagine a formal class such as a live workshop or an e-learning program.
The 70-20-10 rule, based on research from the Center for Creative Leadership, tells us this just scratches the surface of how our employees learn.
- 70 percent of learning comes from challenging assignments
- 20 percent of learning comes from a boss or mentor
- 10 percent of learning comes from formal training
The rule was originally intended as a rough guideline for leadership training. It can easily be adapted to other training topics such as customer service.
Look at those percentages again. They tell us that generally speaking, roughly 90 percent of training (70: challenging assignments + 20: boss or mentor) is already happening to some degree. You just need a way to guide it.
70 percent: Challenging Assignments
- Engage employees to solve problems
- Have employees conduct self-reviews and peer-reviews
- Encourage employees to share best practice solutions to difficult issues
20 percent: Boss or Mentor
- Hold short, weekly team meetings (many use my weekly tips for agenda topics)
- Give employees one-on-one feedback
10 percent: Formal Training
You can save time by leveraging video in many cases. Here's one example where you can use video to reduce training time by 75 percent!
I've also assembled these simple training plans to help you blend experience, mentorship, and formal training into an effective training program takes less than one hour per week.
A lack of time isn't a great excuse for not training your employees.
You can make training work if you do it efficiently. Ditch the old content-heavy, classroom-only training model and adopt a new approach that puts the focus where it belongs: getting results!