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By Key Business Advisors
Human Resources

Written by Director, Colin Wilson


Staff training represents one of the biggest costs for a SME – so how can you get the best return on investment? Tom O’Toole, founder of Beechworth Bakery, was once asked by an audience member at an event where he was speaking, “What happens if you train up a staff member and they leave?” O’Toole famously responded, “What happens if you don’t train them and they stay!” It is a valid question; training can be very expensive, especially if things are not actioned or put into place after the training.

As a business owner, how can you ensure that training your staff represents an investment, rather than a loss? The trick is to monitor your investment; or in other words, follow up, particularly if the training is being conducted by an outside agency. Ask your staff what they have learned from the training provided and how it will help them to improve and become more effective. The benefit of this is that it encourages your staff to actively apply what they’ve learnt in their training to improve business practices. If a staff member has a manager, then you must also follow through with the manager and implement a system in which the manager can monitor their staff and see that they are growing in their skillset and ability from the training. This will help to get the best ROI for the company.

KBA has been conducting staff training for nearly 9 years, and our methodology has always been the same – put a HR Process behind the training. What does that mean? It’s very simple! You need to know how to put measures in place to upskill. You do this by conducting regular one-on-ones and performance reviews with your staff. Consider putting an action plan in place or conducting a skills matrix on your staff to know where their strengths and weaknesses lie, and of course make sure that everything is documented.

A big mistake that many businesses make is failing to conduct these one-on- ones and performance reviews. When training is decided on and implemented as a result of these conversations, it clearly communicates a set of expectations to your staff; for example, improving performance results, increasing productivity through quicker turnaround times, or enhancing knowledge. We know from experience that when training is implemented and followed through, staff excel at their job and increase their knowledge, which benefits not only them but their colleagues as well. They will perform better for the company and they become more resilient in their jobs and careers. It’s a win-win.

As a training business, it can be disappointing when clients don’t follow the process through, because we know that they are not getting the maximum ROI. We strongly encourage these business owners and their managers to follow through from training to get the best results, and if possible we want them to come in and sit through the training to witness the positive interaction and staff engagement. They need to see their staff being upskilled to have better conversations afterwards. KBA is all about business improvement and ROI on staff training. Even for clients who attend a public course, a follow-up with the trainer is a must.

When staff are given training they should know why they are being trained, and what the expectation of them is once the training has been completed. Companies that follow this process and do it well have huge ROI from their staff, especially in sales! If a staff member is disengaged with the company and don’t really want to be part of the training, our solution is simple… don’t send them to training! If their attitude is poor and they are not interested in upskilling, you are wasting your money. You would be surprised how many training sessions are conducted with staff who don’t want to be part of it. As a professional trainer, I assure you that I am quick to jump on this and address it directly with the person, their manager and the business owner, as it threatens to immediately bring the training session down by having a negative impact on the other participants.

The steps to a better Return On Investment for training are as follows:

  • The staff member should fully understand their job role and expectations of KPIs, and why they need training.
  • The manager needs to be proactive and conduct one-on- one conversations with staff on a regular basis.
  • By conducting some sort of skills matrix with staff, it better demonstrates learning capabilities for business outcomes and growth.
  • Having a succession plan in place motivates staff members wanting to learn and grow.
  • Try and sit in on the training and make sure you get a brief from the trainer.
  • The manager should follow through with each staff member after the training has been conducted, which is linked to a strategy for future growth for that staff member.
  • It is a good idea for the business owner and/or manager to praise staff members for taking the training on board and putting what has been learnt into action to help improve the bottom line of the business.
  • As part of your business culture, always emphasis the importance of improvement and why training is central to achieving this.

Following the above creates great employee engagement and helps to empower your staff. I would also add that if you don’t train and upskill your staff, expect them to leave and look for these opportunities elsewhere.

At KBA, we are very passionate about staff development, business improvement and have a methodology that we know works. We have taken many businesses from Good to Great based on the above strategy. We’re strong believers in planning and we customise our training to suit the unique needs of the company we are dealing with. By doing so, we’ve forged many long term relationships with our clients!

For more information on training your staff please contact us at Key Business Advisors to find out what our training programs are all about! Let’s have a conversation on what your training needs are so we can ensure your business is reaching its potential!

Contact Key Business Advisors on 1300 4 ADVICE or email info@keyba.com.au.

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