Training Doesn’t Work

I’ll bet you weren’t expecting to read that. Half of you reading this are probably nodding your head. The rest of you have the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. Maybe I am exaggerating a bit—and maybe it’s too broad of a statement for our use. So let me further qualify what I mean.
When it comes to “training” retail store employees to sell better, training doesn’t seem to be very effective. There we go. Better now?
The sort of training that is most prevalent in specialty retail is usually one of two types:
        -Register training (“ok, Bill, now this is how you ring a sale…”)
-Product knowledge (“here’s the latest widget from Widgets R Us”)
We’re not debating that both of these types of training are vital, necessary and important for your sales staff.
But they don’t go far enough….
There are three elements involved in creating the customer’s desire to make a purchase. Here they are:
1.   The right product
2.   The right price
3.   The  right experience
How do we make sure that the third element in this list is being provided ACCORDING TO YOUR STANDARD? Every time. By every employee.
Ahhhh…….Training. Now, listen up. TRAINING DOESN’T WORK!
Maybe you’d like to debate this. Before you do, consider this: When was the last time you went into a retail store—as a shopper—and received exceptional service? When was the last time an employee at a store helped you make a decision about a purchase, by being attentive, responsive, professional, prepared, sensitive and truly INTERESTED in you?
If you own a retail store, ask yourself this question; Is there anyone working for you now that is currently helping your customers by being attentive, responsive, professional, prepared, sensitive and truly INTERESTED in them?
Have you asked them to do so? (Probably)
Have you offered them some training? (Most likely)
Well then, why doesn’t the behavior match the training?
Training Doesn’t Work.
The reason is surprisingly simple. Adults learn differently that school students do. Even so, we retailers tend to offer the same type of training methods that you’d find in your local elementary school: Read a book. Watch a DVD. Take a test. Go online and play an interactive learning game.
Is that how you learn?
If you expect your staff to behave according to your standard, you are going to have to do some things differently in order to get them to.
In order to provide effective leadership for your store staff, you MUST consider HOW ADULTS LEARN.
A.   Adults need to have respect for their teacher
The first step to earning respect with your students is to be the best example of what you’re teaching. There are three components of effective communication: What you say. How you say it. And WHO YOU ARE! Your trainees must respect YOU. So, to be effective, start by simply modeling the behavior that you want them to duplicate. Be credible.
But it does go farther than that. In order to be respected, you must also OFFER respect. Show respect to the people you are teaching. Remember that they have the right to reject everything you say. Treat them with dignity and consideration. They certainly have opinions and experience worth considering.
B.   Adults need to agree philosophically with the material
We have to get “buy in” or nothing ever happens
Their perspective and opinions must be included
C.   Adults like to have their experience considered as a part of the training experience
Great teachers draw out this experience and make it relevant to the material and teaching process.
D.   Adults need to be involved in the process
They are self-directed and should feel free to be themselves. They can contribute as instructors and help shape the training
E.   Adults need to understand the WHY
What do I get out of this? How does this help achieve company goals? Course objectives have to be clear, meaningful
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One of the poorest decisions a retailer can make today is to decide NOT to properly train teammembers for the work they’re hired to do. In the absence of a meaningful training process, some will resort to telling the new employee to“shadow” a veteran employee. They do this believing that somehow this new employee will learn through “osmosis”. After all, this happens all the time in restaurants, so it must work, right?
It doesn’t. Here are the problems with this approach:
         -It reduces the effectiveness of your tenured employees by asking them to do somethingthey may not be good at; training.
         -It is a major inconvenience to the customer. How does the customer feel knowing that he/she is a “guinea pig” for this new employee? Have you ever been the customer that was used for a training exercise? Did anyone ask your permission?
         -The employee is still left to edit the training. He/she can still decide what they do and don’twant to do. As they watch the veteran employee work, they can be thinking to themselves,
“I’m not going to do it this way..”
Training CAN work when it becomes development, and you incorporate
“continuous improvement” into your company’s culture.
I was scheduled to conduct an employee development program for Dale Phelps, the owner of Village Bicycle of Grand Rapids, MI back on February 1 of this year. Overnight the city received the worst snowstorm in decades: The airport and most businesses shut down under several feet of snow. (There were snowplows in the ditch!). But, we started our training at 8:15 am—15 minutes early! Dale had taken his Toyota minivan out to the countryside and picked up every employee that couldn’t get in on his or her own.
That’s my last point. Training that works begins with an owner or manager who is COMMITTED to having the best sales and service people on the store’s sales floor.


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