The importance of continuous training.

The pace of progress in the realms of business and technology is immense. The world and the demands of the market are always changing. The dramatic events of this year alone have proven how unpredictable things are, and how valuable it is to keep or re-purpose existing resources if needed. Agility is the name of the game here. One of the ways in which businesses can stay relevant and ahead of the pack is through continuous training of employees and management. How should management and businesses approach the topic of continuous training? While each organisation and industry is different, this article will unpack several negative reoccurring myths of continuous training, discuss Verifier’s approach to training, and provide a few tips we’ve discovered to help initiate an ethos of continuous training within your business.

Myth 1, it’s costly:

The first negative connotation with training is that it’s unnecessary, costs money and takes time. On the flip side of that particular coin is that one should look at training like an investment that is as necessary as any to grow all aspects of your business. Money spent on training is often shown to be money well spent. The idea is pay now or you’ll pay later. Continuous training often ultimately saves money and time in the long run, and can result in less turnover of staff. One can argue that to streamline daily operations, it’s better to have staff that are mostly familiar with latest trends and technologies than one specialist who has to constantly supervise and re-teach everyone, at the sake of performing the role they were specially assigned to complete.

Myth 2, my staff are already trained:

Another point often spouted is that a particular business doesn’t need training, as they screen employees for the skills needed for the job before hiring new employees. While this method may help hire people for the business as it is, it won’t help to ensure people will be up to scratch for the business as it could be when it grows. Training can help create a sense of purpose and achievement, and can foster career growth for those who seek it. Over time, once an employee has mastered a skill, they may seek new challenges, and either they’ll grow with you, or apart from you.

Myth 3, trained staff will be poached or leave:

The truth behind this myth is simple, use it or lose it. Many business owners worry that if you train staff, they will leave once they’ve gained what they need. While there is some merit for this, in most instances it is the exact opposite case. The reality is that if you don’t provide a means for good staff to become better, they might seek greener pastures elsewhere. Training can create loyalty and can instil confidence in your employee, and in the relationship you have with them. Ultimately, trained employees may still leave, but would you rather risk some staff training and leaving, or discard continuous training and ensure that all your staff remain under-trained?

Myth 4, only staff need continuous training:

Why limit the confidence, creativity, and mastery provided by training to employees? Continuous training highlights strengths, and areas of improvement for all parties involved. Having a refresher course can lead to seeing old problems in a new light. It is often good for management and staff to train together. As an employer, regardless of your skill or years of experience, you may not know all the technicalities of operations on all levels, and there are simply some things that an employee might learn while training that you may not know. It is only through humility and showing the willingness to be open to change that others may follow suit.

Verifier’s Experience with continuous training:

Verifier has worked hard as an operations team to change aspects of the culture within the security industry in South Africa. We have aimed to create a new ethos and modus operandi moving away from ‘old-school’ security management styles towards investing more in our people, which we have seen to be an unbelievably fruitful change in management style. While security is a serious industry, where people’s lives and livelihoods may hang in the balance, we have strongly motivated the reasoning that a mistake isn’t a failure if the employee is able to learn, grow as a direct result of the ‘failure’, and prevent others from experiencing the same pitfalls. While we are still firm with our employees, we have aimed to move from a “fuck up and you’re gone” style in favour of a less harsh training and guidance focussed approach.

We have looked for the potential in each employee that walks through our doors, and we have gone above and beyond to look after our staff, in the thought that this way they will look out for you, achieving the maximum output from both parties. We had an employee who was having car trouble and was continuously unable to make their shift, but instead of disciplinary action, we organised a lift situation until they could get their car fixed. This employee expressed such gratitude, and openly stated that they had never worked for a company that cared for their employees as much. This employee is now a highly skilled controller, through their own merit, as we gave them the opportunity and they ran with it. We want to create an environment where improvement, care, and upskilling is the norm, not the exception.

Tips for initiating training:

• Don’t make training mandatory. Simply put, this sets a threatening tone. Don’t hold it over employees who haven’t trained as a barrier to achievement, training is meant to be a way to overcome obstacles, not create more.
• Don’t distract employees from the job they already do. Incentives are great, but these should not come at the cost of the main job a person is hired for.
• Don’t focus on the ‘weak link’. If you only aim training at people who are ‘under-performing’, you set a huge barrier to other employees voluntarily engaging with all the benefits training has to offer, all because they do not wish to be seen as incapable of doing their job by their co-workers or management.
• Finally, continuous training doesn’t mean training all the time! Chose a training schedule that matches your industry, budget, and practicality, and don’t be afraid to test what works well for your business.

Conclusion:

Set learning as part of the company culture and allow room for risk and innovation in the process. This creates a mentorship environment where communication is valued, and people aren’t afraid to speak up in a well informed and correct manner. Establishing trust and respect through universal continuous training could help steer your business through obstacles your management might not be aware of.