Guidelines to Developing Training Strategy for Your Small Business
The benefits of training in any organization cannot be overemphasized. It affords the staff the opportunity to hone their skills, develop mentally and technically, and ultimately grow the fortunes of such an organization. Regrettably, employee training is something that many struggle with, especially MSMEs. There are often such issues as time and resource constraint, under-staffing, high attrition rate and lack of structure, which deter most SMEs from equipping their staff with relevant skills. Do you belong to this class of MSMEs? Below are some strategies you can employ to furnish your staff with the needed training to develop them on the job, and in due course grow your business.
1. Conduct a Skills Gap Analysis – A skills gap is the difference between the skills required to carry out a job, and the skills that an employee can actually offer. Conducting a skills gap analysis will help you identify the requisite skills needed by your staff to meet your business goals. Most small businesses fail because they run their operations with a weak workforce; candidates without requisite suitability that were hired directly by the business owner, or ones who started out with one skill but then lacked fresh ones when the demands on their jobs changed or increased.
Furthermore, conducting this exercise will help identify whether your staff actually requires training (upgrade), or you just need to hire a new employee with that essential competence that is being freshly demanded.
2. Enroll for Programmes Online – Online training programmes are a great way for employees of small-size companies to learn at their own pace and select from a wide variety of courses, some of which are free, or at very low-costs. We are in the “Information Age” and it will shock you how much free educative resources are out there on the internet waiting for people to tap into them. Monster search engines the likes of Google and YouTube are top reference points here.
You can consciously structure online training sessions for your staff in courses related to their job functions, integrating their score(s) with periodic appraisal reports.
3. Cross-train your Staff – If you run a small scale business and want your staff to be responsive and equipped to take on additional roles should business requirements change, then you should start thinking of cross-training them. You can do this easily by looking at job functions in your organization as hands-on training opportunities and swapping them between staff (hence the phrase “cross-train”).
Make a less experienced staff ‘shadow’ another staff who is more experienced on a particular job for a few days. After the period, the less experienced staff is made to try the new role on his/her own. Rotate roles from time to time so your employees are continuously learning and challenged to take on new responsibilities and achieve new things.
4. Create a Mentorship Programme – This is similar to ‘Cross-training’ mentioned in #3. The major difference however is that staff under the mentorship programme are only those who have exhibited a considerable amount of passion and competence in a particular job function (or related set of functions) and are assigned to mentors who are more experienced in that line of job; whereas cross-training involves rotating a staff across major departments in the organization so that he/she becomes grounded in the general operations of the business.
5. Join relevant Trade Groups or Associations – Joining associations or trade groups has numerous benefits, one of which is offering training (at times free) to registered members. These groups and associations often times have knowledge of the latest developments in the sector, so getting training from them can be very helpful, and strategic to how well your staff deliver at their responsibilities and help grow your business.
Many industry associations offer training programmes for members at annual events, online, and at organized workshops. Lookout for training opportunities that are included in your membership plan on your trade association’s website or newsletter.
6. Create Training Levels – Dividing training into levels so that staff have specific goal(s) to reach per time is another fantastic way of training your employees as a small business. This means that they are able to grind their skills progressively, one step at a time. You can tie rewards to each level so employees are incentivized to master every stage. Subsequently, you create room for them to take on projects by the side with additional perks that may include increased leadership opportunities, promotion, increase in variable pay etc.
7. Engage Staff in ‘Immersion’ Training – Immersion training involves identifying generic skills that benefit everyone in the office regardless of job role; such as communication, problem solving, teamwork, technology, basic finance etc. and setting aside a day or two to train everybody. Sacrifice by ‘closing shop’ for these days and take your staff offsite, so they have a complete break from work and their minds are relaxed. These soft-skills will not only develop these staff and bond them as a team, but will also harness their individual technical competences on the job; thereby allowing for maximum impact in achieving the objectives and growth of your business.
Aside the aforesaid, there are several other strategies that you can utilize as a small business to engage your employees in simplified, strategic trainings. However, never ignore the need to improve and expand your own skill because the more equipped and knowledgeable you are as a business owner, the better you can train and equip your employees.