- Provide honest recognition for positive work achievements
- Provide honest, constructive feedback for improvements
- Encourage employees to assess where they have either a skill shortfall or where skills are not fully being utilised
- Discuss the skills essential to success in their role
- Ensure the job description is clear and helpful
- Encourage employees to take ownership of their jobs
- Support employees’ attendance at classes and development activities
- Provide opportunities for performance feedback and how to develop further
- Act upon your inspired ideas, so your employees can see that you follow through
- Take the time to get to know them and find out what motivates them
- Be part of the team and get involved in the work, so you are a leader and not a ‘boss’
- Give your employees a view of the planned future for the company
- Set stretch goals for your employees
- Provide them with more responsibility
- Allow employees to participate in key business strategy decisions
- Share useful resources and best practice
- Create light competition within the organization to boost performance
- Become a more inspirational speaker
- Create chances for employees to meet with the beneficiaries of their work
- Provide opportunities for development
Every business has competitors, unless you are very lucky indeed, and even then you cannot guarantee that will always be the case. Even if you are the small fish in a big pond, here are some tips for getting ahead and overtaking your competitors, whatever your industry.
- Identify your top competitors and what has made them successful. Try and look at them from a customer’s point of view and see what it is about them which makes them unique and attracts clients.
- Now look at your business and what is drawing in customers – what makes you unique to your competitors? If you have clients simply because they are ignorant of other options then you really need to hone down on a unique selling point. You need to offer people something they cannot get elsewhere.
- Assess your products – can it be easier to use? Can it be acquired quicker? Can it be sold for less? More compact, safer, more efficient or longer lasting? There are lots of ways to improve what you are already selling to give it more of an edge.
- Merging this analyses together, look at what aspects of your competitors are worthy of emulation. Also look at what you can offer uniquely and push that in your marketing. You cannot rely on emulation alone or your growth will be severely stunted.
- Build overtaking your nearest competitor into your short term business strategy. Disassemble your climb to the top into smaller, more manageable pieces and set time goals for each of these.
- An incentive or deal can entice new customers in who, if impressed, will reward this investment with their loyalty in the future and word of mouth recommendations, which are invaluable.
- Consider a service with your products that your competitors are not doing. Perhaps you could sell your items online, or keep your stores open for longer.
- Think about your business’s location geographically, and how it looks when you’re in the shop: everything gives potential customers an impression of what they will be getting, and if it’s not good then they won’t be interested!
If an organization is starting to feel the pinch financially, either because of wider economic reasons or due to sales difficulties for the business, it can make it harder to set money aside for development. Training can change from being something that is needed to just something that would be nice if the money was there. But training ought not to be thought of as a cost but as an investment and if the business is not doing well, it might be exactly what is required to help it improve. So if the money is tight, how do you get the best value from your training and make your budget stretch a bit further?
- Focus your goals
Before you commence any training it’s vital you understand what specifically you’d like to change and achieve from the development work. The clearer the goals, the more likely you are to hit them on target and see the change your business needs the most.
- Select who will be trained
Which area of the business is creating the problems and under-performing? It’s unlikely you will need to train everyone in the organization, so use your goals to pin down who would benefit most from development, and only spend your money on them.
- Don’t repeat
Once you have selected those you think will undergo training, find out what they have done already training-wise. It would be silly to spend money putting someone through training they have had before, particularly if it was recently. If the last training did not produce the desired results in those individuals, then you should be asking why. Is it worth investing in more of the same if the impact was so low?
- Ensure the participants are ready for training
If any of the participants are unwilling or uninterested in learning and improving then their attitude may rub off on the others and produce poor intake of the information provided and little improvement in behaviour beyond the classroom. Individuals can have very different preferences about how they want or best learn, so it can be beneficial to have these conversations early on to impact the format and delivery of the training so everyone is happy and ready to learn.
- Choose quality over price
With the last point in mind, make sure the training is fit for purpose and of good quality. It must be able to deliver and make an impact or it’s not worth spending the time or money on it at all. Some providers offer ‘off the shelf’ training programs, but they may not be as relevant to your company than if the program was selected specifically for your organization and delivered by a trainer who really understood the issues you are facing. Participants will concentrate better and be more motivated by something they find relevant to them.
- Have the training delivered in-house
In-house training saves a lot of the costs that come with training, such as venue hire, refreshments and travel. If the training company comes to your business then those expenses are diminished, and the participants will be quicker to focus on the learning without the distractions of a new environment. They will also be able to return quickly to work should anything arise demanding immediate attention.
- Measure the success of your training program
To assess the value gained from the sessions, it’s prudent to follow up after the training to see what difference it has made. A training evaluation can assess the provider you have chosen and whether they have made a good impression, but to see the difference it has made on the business you will need to plan evaluations in the long term.
- Ask questions of your provider
You are making an important and personal investment into your business, so it’s crucial the provider is right, and you should ask them as many questions as you need so you are comfortable with the deal made. For inspiration on the kinds of things to consider when choosing the training provider and questions to ask, see our article on 16 Questions to Ask when choosing a Training Provider.
- Does the training provider fully understand my training objectives?
- Is the training set at the right level for my business?
- Does the provider have experience of my sector?
- Does the provider have experience of businesses of my size?
- Will the training be tailored to my business’ needs and have a level of customization?
- How up-to-date is the provider with the current and future demands of my sector?
- Does the provider offer a learning environment best suited to my people?
- For example, some people prefer learning in a classroom, whereas others
- prefer seminar work or workshops
- Can the provider fit training around my time constraints and commitments?
- What materials does the training provider supply?
- How professional does the training provider appear to be and how happy are they to answer all of my questions?
- Can the provider put me in touch with satisfied clients or offer testimonials?
- Does the course represent value for money? Remember this doesn’t always imply the cheapest.
- What can the provider offer to assist in sustaining the training long-term?
- Can the provider offer a global reach for my company, so I can expand internationally?