To Train or Not To Train?

By Andrea Belk Olson, MSC and CEO of Pragmadik

In the restaurant industry, training is a given. There’s no question that a new hire won’t get a minimum number of training hours, from processes and procedures, to food handling and customer service. On the other hand, many small to mid-sized manufacturers resist investing in employee training, citing concerns that if the employee leaves, that investment was lost. However, this is a straw-man argument. Let’s address these preconceived notions.

Don’t Train Because of Employee Turnover?

First and foremost, manufacturing isn’t the only industry that has employee turnover. Industries like food service, have incredible rates of turnover. Sometimes, people don’t even complete their first day on the job. Why bother training them? Because the restaurant industry knows that untrained employees impact their bottom line. If a server doesn’t know the menu, what ingredients are in each dish, how to enter or customize the order, or how to effectively manage the timing of those orders based on the capacity of the kitchen, it directly impacts customer satisfaction. In turn, those customers don’t come back. Knowledgeable employees directly impact the customer experience, and employees won’t magically gain that necessary knowledge without training.

Don’t Train Because it Costs Too Much?

This is also an interesting fallacy. With our restaurant example, often times a senior server will serve as a mentor, where the new employee will shadow them for a solid 2 weeks before left to their own devices. There are tests about food handling, service processes, Point-of-Service software usage and more, before they ever get to be in front of a customer on their own. There is a standard process in place for training, which builds performance consistency and measurement, along with reducing training costs. Manufacturers have even more cost-effective resources at their disposal, from partnering with local community colleges to state incentives that will pay for specialized training. In short, it’s about taking advantage of the resources you have at your disposal.

Don’t Train Because You Can Just Hire People With Training Already?

There’s no new hire that will bring enough knowledge about your internal processes and procedures to hit the ground running at 100% on day one. Every person, no matter their skill set, has a ramp-up time required to acclimate to that organization’s unique process. While organizations can hire specific skills, such as welding or project management, this doesn’t mean that their previous training or experience was at the quality level you expect. They might be extremely talented in one area, such as using Microsoft Project, but not as skilled in other areas, such as managing people or communications. Every person you hire will have strengths and weaknesses. It’s the organization’s job to identify those, and help fill the gaps with training and mentorship where necessary.

Don’t Train Because It Consumes Too Much Productivity Time?

While training does take up time not being spent on revenue-generating activities, it also helps shorten the time it takes for a new hire to become fully productive. If you can cut the time it takes to get a new employee up to speed and working independently in half, they will be generating revenue for you faster. According to a study by US News, the typical new employee requires 6-10 months to get fully acclimated to a job. In that time, they are dragging on other resources in the organization, they aren’t as efficient as other employees, and they make more mistakes that take time and resources to correct. If you could utilize training to cut that time in half, it not only saves the organization money, but also gets them more productive faster, which impacts your bottom line.

Final Thought: While training feels like a burden, it’s a great way to show employees that the organization wants to invest in their growth and advancement. Not every organization can provide consistent raises or bonuses to their teams. Why not provide training and support to advance their skillsets, making them more valuable to the company, as well as to themselves. It’s a great way to show you’re willing to invest in them beyond a paycheck.

One More Thought: Remember, training doesn’t simply have to be tied to hard skills, such as software or assembly, but unique soft skills including communications, problem-solving, and more. It’s about knowing the gaps.

(My new book, “The Customer Mission” will be coming out in July of 2018.)

About the Author

Andrea’s 20-year, field-tested background provides unique, applicable approaches to creating more customer-centric organizations. A 4-time ADDY® award-winner, she began her career at a tech start-up and led the strategic marketing efforts at two global industrial manufacturers.

In addition to writing, consulting and coaching, Andrea speaks to leaders and industry organizations around the world on how to craft an effective customer-facing operational strategies to discover new sources of revenues and savings.

Connect with Andrea to access information on her book, workshops, keynote speeches, training or consulting. More information is also available on www.pragmadik.com and www.nodisruptions.com.

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