Training staff is an effort worth making

Donald Rumsfeld was the first to say that the biggest problem is always “the things that you don’t know that you don’t know”, wasn’t he? I’m afraid not. Years before that, I, and many others, were introduced to this concept at Mercury ahead of its time.

Since I left the company, my business adventures have included a public flotation of a start-up and being a senior independent director at a FTSE 100 company, and I feel I owe a lot of my success to Mercury’s investment in me.

Training challenges

Training costs money as well as time out of the office, so the business takes an immediate hit. However, when I think of training I mentally compare it to an F1 race where a car comes into the pit to change tyres. Sure, seconds are lost, but if everyone else has dry tyres when they need wet, the benefit can be enormous. Lap by lap, the car with the wet tyres gains on the others, eventually making up for every second lost, and putting the driver in a position to easily overtake the remaining rivals.

It’s the same with training. There’s a cost up front, but the benefit is seen in better performance over time. Not only that, but employees are motivated by the feeling that you care about their performance and that there is career progression in their job.

Performance costs

I think that I have improved in my job performance due to all sorts of training over the years. Courses have embraced staff management, IT technical skills, direct marketing, internet marketing, psychometric testing (which has helped with recruitment), strategic marketing, and much more.

In my experience, there is always something to be learned from training, even when the course is weak or the presenter poor. And with online materials, a whole world of low cost self-improvement has opened up on top.

Improving performance costs time and effort, whether for yourself or for your staff, but it’s an effort worth making. The challenge is, are you doing enough about it?

Chris Barling is co-founder and chairman of ecommerce software and EPOS systems specialist, SellerDeck.

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