So what is training? Why is it necessary? When does it begin? When does it end? Is it true your face can get stuck that way? All these important questions and more will be answered in the following personal soliloquy to training – long past due and long in the tooth.
Training: drills, exercise, working out, practice, preparation and teaching. All of these synonyms are reflections of the act of training, in fact substitute words better defining the act. If you are a typical automotive department manager, you did not receive formal training in preparation for your lofty position. Most dealership managers were selected (say “seized”) from a subordinate status, where he or she performed very well compared to his or her equals. And the truth is if the assembly you were surrounded with were pathetic, it wasn’t difficult to appear “Einstein-like” to the big boss.
Now, with literally no prep, the only thing to do was mimic the guy who just quit or got the axe. Of course, you knew a few improvements which needed to be made just from suffering through the prior King’s reign, so you were able to make a few employees happy for a bit. When your honeymoon began ending in about three weeks, reality sat on your face and your popularity began sinking like the effective labor rate after another required manufacturer coupon promotion. “Geez, and I thought all he did was sit in his office and drink coffee – this ain’t so fun.” What to do?
Well, the successful future you have will be predicated on your vision, or you better get one. Answering the questions of fundamental business: Precisely what should this business be in regards to the customer and employee experience? What should the financials be producing? What is the marketplace and how big is it? How do we capture more of it? Where is that dang porter? And so on and so forth.
Winners and you know
Here is where the winners and losers part company with the key component to success being the amount of training the employees receive. Please don’t confuse this critical action with conducting a lot of employee summits so that everyone can bitch themselves to satisfaction and performance. No, now is the time to embrace the culture of continuous, ongoing, without fail, calculated training. And the best part is how easy it really can be accomplished just by remaining committed.
Realize this: training is in fact, a continuum, which occurs regardless of the formality or not of it. Every conversation is a form of informal training, cause and effect as it were, which may or may not generate positive results. A manager’s objective has to be to execute effective formal training to ultimately reap the rewards of the informal training – you just have to get your message out and stick to it. Hence, in a manner, there is no such thing as no training – just poor or good training.
That being said, a manager can begin a training regimen by introducing the concept that training occurs all day and every day, with everyone and it will produce positive or negative consequences. Driving subordinate behavior towards embracing process consistency, (defining the process is the easy part) creates an absolute winning situation for everyone, especially the consumers and their related satisfaction.
The invigoration of training ideals isn’t rocket science my amigo. It just needs a planned process to get it started, and frankly that seldom takes place. Training is necessary and yet fun – especially when the result (performance) is measured and shared (and you can’t beat a good contest!). However, if the entire measurement of training interaction (results) is based on the last crummy meeting one attended, then the target is missed completely.
Here is a simple blueprint for driving successful training in your department:
1. Document your vision (dream) of the perfectly performing department – include customers, employees, and financials. Think of it as the ultimate training game plan to create success (you might start with a mission statement – why are we here anyway?). Since there are no stumbling blocks at this point, go crazy and envision absolute perfection. It won’t hurt, I promise. As a bonus, include some of your key employees in the development process. If you have never done this (that would be most managers) you will be stuck being a “maintainer” only – not saying that is a bad thing, but forget about excelling to the top. Think of yourself as the CEO of your operation – uhhh, well you are actually.
2. Document how your department can attain your vision through an on-going training regimen.
Think of this as setting up the development and practice sessions before a sports game – the prep and warm up as it were. Integrate the numerous processes you have perfected into pre-planned formal training time, you know a “schedule” thingy.
Remember too, the intensity of training lessens after the players have refined their skill sets, so don’t fret about the beginning effort needed to attain your fantasy, ultimately the future preservation training is easy. Besides, everyone wins big.
3. Introduce your initiative and execution plan in formal meetings, or maybe one big assembly. Share your vision and most importantly tell everyone what’s in it for them, and make it impactful (i.e. more income). Consider constructing your presentation in PowerPoint and have some handouts to ensure everyone maintains the information. Share your plan with the GM/dealer or other respected individual and ask for input.
4. Don’t waiver on the training execution. If you wimp out, it would have been better that you didn’t act like you cared in the first place, and you will be considered weak by some. To prepare for this exciting and career changing event, read a couple autobiographies by very successful sports coaches. Vision and mandated training directly related to that vision will be the thread which connects the chapters, and by the way, there will be at least one flop along the line which ultimately proved to be the perfect learning experience.