Friday, January 7, 2011

Plotting the Course and Raising the Bar

We all do this. Plot our course for the next year. We are all busy making Sales Projections, Expense Budgets, and Marketing Plans.

But have you done a Training Plan?

Raising the Bar
Have you worked on a list of skills you want to teach or improve in your staff? Have you made a list of strengths and weaknesses for each individual and your store as a whole? Have you chosen a topic where you wish to raise the bar in your customer service this year and then plotted a course for training the staff to that new level?

One mistake I used to make was to think that just by telling the staff where I wanted them to improve, they would figure out how to do it. Big whoops!

You need to not only identify where to improve but also figure out how to train to that new level.

One Topic per Quarter
It takes time for your staff to grasp new concepts. It takes time for them to learn something new and be able to implement it in their daily routine.

Therefore, I always pick just one topic each quarter on which to focus. Then I plan all my trainings during that quarter on teaching the staff more about that topic. If we are successful in raising the bar then I will pick a new topic for the next quarter and plan all those trainings around that topic. If not, I go back to the drawing board and find new ways to teach the first topic.

For instance, last year we focused much of the year on Communication - communication between employee & customer, communication between employee & employee, communication between employee & me. Yeah, it was a big topic and took up most of the year. And we made great strides in raising the bar on the first two. (But unfortunately not the last point. Somewhere I failed. If the staff doesn't learn, it is never their fault, always the fault of the teacher. So I'll figure out something new and keep working on that point this year.)

Moving Forward
The focus at the beginning of this year will be on improving our merchandising skills. I could just tell the staff to do better, but nothing much will change. Instead, we will be working each month on a new skill such as how to use signage (who it is for, what it should say), building attractive endcaps, thinking like a customer.

My goal is to eventually empower the staff to recognize the difference between a customer-friendly display and a stocker-friendly display and know that they have the authority to make changes as necessary to keep the store fresh and exciting and move more merchandise.

But without a Training Plan, this doesn't get accomplished.

Training Plan Made Easy
Sound like too much? Make it simple on yourself.
  • Write down a list of your staff's overall strengths and weaknesses.
  • Pick two items on that weakness list and prioritize them.
  • Teach something on that highest priority until the staff gets it. Then move on.

You're the leader. So go lead the staff exactly where you want them to go.

-Phil

PS Need help planning your meetings/trainings? Here is a FREE eBook on how to do that easily and effectively. (Don't forget to download the worksheet too - but read the eBook first!)

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