Employee training and development can make a huge difference in small business performance. And with so many options for training today – from formal classes to informal mentoring, there’s no reason your employees shouldn’t be learning right now.
Here are the most popular and effective topics for learning and improving small business skills:
Click here to see the full size version.
Good work habits
- Time management: learn how to juggle priorities and avoid distractions and time wasters.
- Accountability: help employees learn your accountability processes and give them strategies for holding each other accountable for standards and safety.
- Attire and appearance: dress codes don’t need to be strict, but employees should know the basic standards. Acceptable appearance can increase trust and customer satisfaction.
- Social media etiquette: it’s great to have employees participate in your social media campaigns, but help them understand the difference between personal and professional posts or you might end up with a PR nightmare.
- Phone etiquette: phone manners can make a great or poor impression of your business on callers.
- Customer care: everyone in the company should know how to acknowledge customers and help them find what they need.
- Business offerings: do your employees really know what your company offers? Make sure they can help customers find the right solution before saying “We don’t do that.”
- Handling difficult customers: ensure employees know what they can do to help unhappy customers and when to escalate to management
- Good sales questions: help your sales team and anyone else who works with customers learn to ask questions that uncover customer needs and discover new ways you can serve them.
- Handling complaints: if your team makes a mistake or a customer is unhappy, give employees the knowledge and resources to make it right. This is a great chance to learn from experience with post-incident reviews.
- Leadership: leadership training never ends, but if you haven’t given your managers some basic training, you’re cheating them and yourself.
- Performance management: helping employees grow and improve involves much more than simply rating their performance twice a year. Give managers some strategies for providing regular feedback and helping employees work on weaknesses.
- Goal setting: when you don’t have a goal, you don’t know when you’ve succeeded. Ensure your leadership team knows how to set SMART goals (or something similarly effective).
- Coaching: coaching isn’t hard, but it takes some practice and a good structure. Help managers become coaches so they can guide employees to better performance.
- Coping with gossip: water cooler talk can corrode employee bonds and trust. Help people know how to react to it and what to do when the rumor mill starts pumping.
- Running meetings: meetings are one of the biggest time wasters in business today. Show your team how to set up, schedule, run and follow up on meetings that actually accomplish something.
- Problem solving: teams that can solve their own problems save you time, money, and headaches.
- Peer coaching: coaches don’t have to be experts. Give your team some guidance for coaching each other, and they’ll be able to work on challenges together.
- Safety: safe operations are paramount importance, and peer accountability can ensure you avoid accidents.
- Collaboration: everyone wants more teamwork but it’s not easy to operate in a team without strategies for communication, organization, and handling problems.
- Presentations: even employees who don’t regularly give presentations will benefit from learning how to speak in public, make clear, simple points, and answer questions.
- Writing/emails: good grammar and well-crafted prose seem like lost arts. Here’s a place where your company can stand out from the competition. People who write well are viewed as smarter and more competent by others.
- Receiving feedback: few people want to hear feedback, especially if it’s critical. But you can help employees view criticism differently and turn it into better performance.
- Giving feedback: it’s hard to give feedback that doesn’t offend others. Help your team learn how to offer critical feedback by focusing on objective facts, setting the intention of the information, and providing ideas for solutions.
- Listening: Everyone needs to practice listening. It’s key to understanding what your employees and clients need from you.
People who continually develop new abilities will thrive in today’s economy. Anyone can learn with effort and a willingness to leave your comfort zone.
Regardless of what the future brings, if you’re good at learning, then you’ll never be lost at sea.