I challenged readers of this column to “Make 2018 the Year of Human Capital Investment.” Training is likely a key part of your human capital investment. Below is a professional perspective on how to make training work and how to make it pay from one of my Machinery Advisors Consortium colleagues, Daniel Surprenant.
— George Russell
You are a dealer principal or general manager, you believe in training, and you say “I will hire an expert to come to train my team and immediately I will have a return on my investment.” So you invest hundreds of dollars in training, hoping for a fast return, and nothing changes. You then say to yourself, “I just put money down a rat hole!”
Training is an ongoing process, not an event! It should address strategic issues — for everyone.
You should see the training in your dealership as a long-term process with a pay-off over time. But you should have a short-term goal (early in 2018?) to challenge all of your managers to elaborate the training needed to resolve strategic issues such as:
- Low sales in a department
- Poor customer satisfaction
- Poor work or sales ordering process, or
- Little or no management or coaching skills of your managers.
Training must be a part of the your overall dealership approach with integration from the top of the pyramid (your dealership’s strategy) down to the bottom (every employee should have a personal training and develop program). If you are starting from scratch to do this, set a deadline to complete this inside of the year and use those to set future targets.
No One Best Training Approach – Use a Mix
Once you agree on your overall strategy, you will face the big questions of what’s the best training vehicle and which one provides the best return on your investment.
The training philosophy will vary depending on which company asks for your business. Some training firms will say classroom is the best, others will tell you that the new way is online and that it provides the same results at a lower cost.
My humble point of view is you need a mix of training. Your team can receive the theory part of the training via the web, and the “Make it Happen” in classroom led by an instructor. I see the classroom training as the next best thing to practicing with your customer (which of course, in the real world you can’t do). With a mix of training, your employees first get the theory and the later, after they get their head around the foundational concepts of whatever strategic process can resolve the issue the dealership faces, then your employees will be ready to do the “How To” in a classroom with a live trainer. An example might be role-playing or interaction with others or working with your dealership’s numbers.
Results Come from Follow-Up
But don’t forget that results come from follow up. As a manager of managers, you are doing that now. Do it as well after training.
My 30-plus years of working with dealerships convinces me that regarding employee training, if an outside source does the follow up, then that enterprise will increase their success about 75% (meaning better behaviors and positive numbers). If they provide personal coaching you will increase your results at least 90%.
What Should I Do Now?
The first step will be what we said above. Connect your business strategy to specific needs that need to be fixed or skills that need to be developed. Be as specific as possible including the financial loss or gain.
Second, guide your management team to put in place the desire and a true belief that training, done over time and with a strong foundation, will result in real change in their part of the business. In short, develop a training culture within your dealership. Over time, a training culture will yield big results. Small changes implemented over time result in staggering results.
Third, use a mix of training vehicles and realize that results come from follow-up, so choose the most effective way to do that.
If you follow this step-by-step path, you will get results like you’ve never had before. You will also realize a big impact in employee retention (the fuel of the enterprise). And to get results, you will need leadership from your management team to follow up, your coaching of them, a game plan for each employee and the influence and perspective of an outside personnel trainer to make sure that new processes are put into place (make it happen).