Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle
In the article entitled: The acquisition of knowledge in business gives one a competitive edge, I wrote about the methods of training and development that larger companies and organizations use to train their employees and management staff. While these methods have been traditionally used by large companies and organizations, smaller companies and small business owners can also take example and integrate an education plan into their overall business vision. Similar to larger companies and organizations, small business owners can also develop an educational philosophy as a means to educate and develop themselves and their employee; and also create a culture of learning. Like your eco-friendly plan that shows your appreciation and dedication to the preservation of the planet; let your educational philosophy also reflect how you value your employees' development. Show your appreciation for the human side or the socio-business aspect of your business goals and vision.
Larger organization focus on conducting several types of training to meet their organization's goals and small businesses, can too. Some of the training programs conducted include, product-based training, technical training, employee-task-based process-oriented training, psychosocial preparedness and customer-based training.
Product-oriented training is designed to educate the employees who work in this area with the product that the organization or business focus on. For example a small business that focuses upon manufacturing bags and jewellery will need to teach their sales staff on how the product is made. Another business that deals with the production of cakes will also need to educate their staff on the type of products that goes into making each type of cakes — and similarly, if your business specializes in candle or soap making. These are just some examples that a small business may be engaged in.
Process-oriented training is also critical to the growth of your business. Employees must be trained in the various processes that facilitate the operation of your company. Whether it is customer-services, marketing, production, shipping and handling, handling customer order; regardless of the process, employees must be taught how to, to ensure effectiveness.
Technical training should also form part of your training and development program. Your employees require training on the technical processes of your business; and you too. If you are using computer based technologies to facilitate your business process, train your employees. When you purchase a new piece of technology make sure that you have a contract that covers repairs, parts, upgrades, online and direct management support and continuous training and development, from the provider. Make sure that you receive the product operational manual, and at the time of sale, make sure that your employees are a part of the adoption, and that training is a part of the implementation.
Psychosocial preparedness training is also important to small businesses to ensure that your employees are able to make the transition, for example with the implementation of a change process. For example, the way that you manage your inventory might change from a non-computerized method to a computerized approach. Another change that may occur is that you might decide to incorporate a — point-of sale system for cashing and inventory management. With the advent of change, not all our employees easily embrace it. Some can be resistant, and if our employees are resisting it could have a devastating impact on our return of investment. What do you do if this happens? Or rather what do you do to prevent it and to make the transition smoothly? You might suggest firing that employee and hiring others. Remember though that the recruitment process could be very time consuming and costly. Your change management team, often recommend that you should include your employees as part of your decision making for the change, so that they will be familiar with the change when it is implemented. What this does, is that when it is implemented, the employee or employees will be prepared to accept it and run with it — so to speak.
Psychological Preparedness Training is conducted to prepare your employees with the change, particularly those who might be or are resistant to the change to see the importance and value of the change process. You can also conduct psychological preparedness training with your customers, particularly if you introduced a new way of doing business. For example, you might have introduced a new way of shopping and payment — like online shopping.
Customer-service training is also a key training type that you should engage in for the sustainability of your business, regardless of its size. Great customer service skills help you to establish a good customer-relationship with your clientele — and it is very crucial to the management of your business. Your clients are who keep your business growing and developing. It is that part of our business that is people-focused and is the heart beat of your business entity. You therefore must learn how to communicate and interact with them. It is important to know how you form relationships with them and keep and maintain them.
Customer’s services training can focus on how you communicate. How you talk to your customers. What you might say. How you respond to inquiries face-to-face, over the telephone or through email. There are other ways that we can interact with our customers’ particular in this day of social media and blogging. Integrating social media and having a business blog are two great ways to reach your clients and build a relationship with them. For some small business owner, these technologies are quite daunting, and many are resisting integrating it into their business; and for those who have, there is a learning curve. Enhance your knowledge in this area by taking a course or you can recruit someone to specifically perform this task within your business. Customer service is also about respect and how you value the "other". In addition, it is also about having and showing love and compassion to them. I will like to recommend that you introduce an element of spirituality into you business so that it becomes a part of your business philosophy and business culture.
A small business owner may ask why I need to conduct so many different types of training; I am not a large corporation. Yes, I agree that you are not a large corporation, but as a small company you also engage in the same business activities as larger ones; only at a smaller scale. You are also involved in the production of your goods and or services. You also engage in marketing and promoting your product or services to your customer base. You are also involved in building your personal brand and your business brand, as well as conducting research and development. You may also think about expanding your market either locally or internationally. Regardless of the size of your entrepreneurial venture you will need to conduct some level of training and or some type of training.
Training is generally conducted on-site and off -site using other facilities, including higher educational facilities like private consultants and trainers, colleges and universities. In addition, how the training is approached is also significant to the adoption strategy. Training can either be employee-focused but organization – supported, or it can be organization-initiated. As a small business owner you can decide which approach best meet your budget's needs.