Once you hire smart, local talent, it is your job to train those people and give them the tools they need to succeed.
Your job as their new employer is to increase their skill level and make them well-rounded in their field. If you can’t do this, you will not only grow unhappy and frustrated employees, but you will lose money when you send them away and need to replace them.
You do not want to do this. You do not want to fail at training.
As I’ve been on both sides of this situation, I thought I’d share some ways employers fail at training, and how you can grow happier, better employees. Most times, when employees don’t work, it’s because of something you did. Not them.
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1. The company never defines business goals
During the interview process, you gave the candidate a quick rundown of your company, what it’s doing, and what it plans to accomplish over the next 10 years. If the candidate is smart, he or she probably even did some Google-stalking to get to know your business better.
But now that person is a part of your business. It’s time for another sit-down to explain your business goals, the purpose behind your methodology, and what the company’s main objective is. I’m not saying the person needs to attend a three-day retreat while you outline your business strategy, but at least give him the bullet points.
Give him the information he needs to understand how he can best spend his time, what areas he should focus on to help the company grow, and what truly matters. It’s a lot easier to steer a ship when you don’t have several people plotting in different directions.
New hires should also understand all this information about their clients. It’s one thing to tell a new employee that his job is to build links for Client X, but taking the time to explain the client’s needs, wants and objectives will help him understand what types of links to find and what kind of exposure the client really wants.
By giving context to the work, you help employees succeed because they know what truly matters and aren’t focused on random data points.
2. You focus on task-specific knowledge
If you’re a motivated and curious employee, there’s nothing more frustrating than a boss who wants to shove you in a box and only let you learn about your specific job function.
When I worked for others, this is something that made me incredibly resentful. I understood that the company hired me to perform a certain task, but I also wanted to learn about the company and become more well-rounded. I wanted to learn what everyone else was doing to bring context to my own work and help out when I could.
I didn’t want to be one thing—I wanted to be awesome. When I wasn’t allowed to do that, I left.
You limit your employees when you don’t let them come out of their caves and see the whole experience. You stunt their knowledge, growth and ability to excel at what they’re doing.
By encouraging employees to learn about the industry they’re part of, you help them perform their jobs better, stay motivated, feel fulfilled, and give their jobs context.
3. You ignore employees’ skills
Every employee you hire will come to your business with unique skills they picked up from other jobs or through different experiences. Instead of ignoring these skills, look for ways to integrate them into your company.
Just because you run an Internet marketing company doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from someone with years of traditional marketing experience. Just because you’re selling handbags doesn’t mean an employee with a video production background can’t bring something awesome to the table.
Hiring people with different skill sets is a great way to expand your business into new areas and to experiment with different things.
Instead of sucking the life out of people by forcing them to relinquish their old skills and identity, encourage them to get a little messy.
4. You offer horrible training exercises
A person starts a new job fully energized and ready to light the world on fire. What do you do?
You hand her a 30-pound, three-ring binder and tell her to read it before she touches anything, or, you lock her in a conference room for two days while you show her the world’s longest PowerPoint presentation.
She won’t learn anything because she’s too busy drooling on your newly refinished conference table.
You have to train people, but no one said it had to be mind-numbingly boring. Create a training program that engages people. Give them an active role where they’re asked to do stuff, demonstrate knowledge, and put things back together after you break them.
People don’t learn by sitting through two days of slides and bad jokes.
5. There’s no opportunity for new thinking
Allow employees to be an active part of the training process. Just because they’re new to your company doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to offer your existing staff.
After employees go through your required training materials, look at the skills they came in with. Is there something they could help the rest of the team become better at or learn about? I bet you there is. And what a great way to make the new guy feel valued and part of the company’s success.
6. You never revisit training
Training is not a one-time thing; it is ongoing. You must revisit it throughout the person’s employment. I don’t care what industry you’re in—the SEO world, real estate or cupcake decorating—unless you constantly train and educate your staff, you’re going to lose its effectiveness and grow frustrated employees.
What has sent you running from a job? Or, on a more positive note, what do you love about your current gig?
Lisa Barone is the chief branding officer at Outspoken Media , where this article originally ran.