Mallory Bassore is the Senior Human Resources and Client Services Development Manager at Staff One, an HR consulting group based in Dallas, Texas. Over the past few years, Mallory has noticed a disturbing trend sweeping across businesses of every industry, causing trouble for employees and employers alike. That trend? A lack of training – both basic and more advanced.
Mallory sat down with our HR Insiders podcast in March to discuss how a lack of training came about, the problems it can create, and some possible solutions to help out everyone in business. The effects of a lack of training are more widespread than you’d think; read on to determine if your business is suffering (and how you can change that).
Why is training important?
It’s pretty obvious that a worker must receive training on new software programs, updated policies, or particularly technical procedures. While these trainings are certainly useful, they’re skipping the most basic level of trainings most employees need in order to be fully successful at their jobs.
As Mallory explains, “There is a general assumption that certain soft skills – communication, for example – are common sense. So, there’s an expectation that your people will already have this skill. But what I’ve found is that they either don’t necessarily have that skill, it’s not one that’s practiced, or they had no formal training in it.” This creates a problem for more than those who work in customer service. Employees attitudes toward each other are also subject to their communication skills, which can lead to more disputes and less effective work without proper training.
Mallory also points out that “Many employers don’t understand the return on investments they’ll get from training their people. When you improve soft skills of your people, you will see that payout in dividends. People will feel more engaged. They’ll feel like you are investing in them so they’re more motivated to stay with you longer. The way they’ll interact with each other improves, and the way they interact with your customers is going to improve. All of that together elevates your reputation as a company.”
Along with communication, empathy training is also important – and is another training skillset often overlooked by employers. Mallory explains “When it comes to EQ (the abbreviation for emotional intelligence), the bottom line is empathy training. Not that people are generally lacking in it, but there’s so much pressure for everybody at every level to do more with less. That means there’s going to be more stress and quicker deadlines, and that’s a lot for anyone. When we’re stressed out, it can create negative health effects on us. And that will, whether you’re aware of it or not, affect the way that you interact with the people you work with, with your customers, with your vendors. And so it is really important to be aware of these things and to go through training on something like emotional intelligence so you can be cognizant of it and learn some tools as to how to deal with it when you’re having an emotionally unintelligent moment.”
Basic training in soft skills like communication and emotional intelligence can foster a better work environment for everyone.
What makes a good training?
Some employers offer training in these fields, and that’s great! But if the trainings aren’t done well, no one will take anything from them, and they’ll ultimately be a waste of time and money.
As Mallory explains, “There’s nothing worse than going to a training and being bored. I give training all the time, and I make a point to make them lively, energetic, and interactive – even on serious topics because I don’t want people to be tuning me out thinking, “Oh my gosh. When will she stop talking so I can go back to my work?” I want them to say, “This was the most fun training I’ve ever had. I can’t wait for her to come back.” Because then they’re really going to be using their brains and completely involved, really diving into the material and getting some solid takeaways from it that they can then implement in their work life.”
For some employers, that might mean it’s necessary to hire someone to come in from the outside instead of having a manager conduct trainings. It also means it’s important to do enough research to find someone who won’t just ‘do the training’ but who will do the training well.
In particular, one of the ways to create training that’s applicable to an employee regardless of their field within the company is to incorporate your company’s values into it. “You should align the training with the values that you uphold within your company. Because your management team, executives, and leaders should be leading by example. So if one of your values is service leadership, give everybody service training. It’s really important to do that. It’s also really important to keep your momentum. It’s not enough to meet once a year to go over sexual harassment and that’s it.” Training needs to be more continual that once per year in order for it to be effective.
In fact, “There’s no excuse not to develop your teams and invest in a training. I even encourage employers to create training tracks. So a baseline training for everybody in a management or supervisory role where you go over soft skills and compliance. And then a secondary track where, once you’ve done succession planning, or you’ve identified our high performing employees, where you go into even more training, customized to what their needs are and what areas of weakness they need to beef up. From there, you can tie that training into performance metrics for evaluations.”
Effective employee training benefits more than just the employee; it fosters stronger relationships, builds confidence and capability, and boosts the productivity of the business as a whole. Despite being so important, training is so often overlooked by employers, especially at the most basic levels.
If you want to get in contact with Mallory for information on training or otherwise, feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And for a more detailed look at effective training techniques, be sure to tune into our HR Insiders podcast, available on SoundCloud and iTunes.