Tip #1: Training Staff

A poorly trained employee can hurt a small business, especially with a staff that's smaller than your larger competitors. That's why clear, consistent training for new hires is so important. Here's how to develop a training plan that will help your staff be successful from day one.

Develop a Company Culture and Hire Employees Who Fit Within it

Small business owners are often better able to create a culture and sense of community than bigger companies are because they typically have a smaller staff and, thus, can be more involved in the hiring process. Use this to your advantage by giving your company a unified mindset, and make sure your new hires fit within it.

At Harness Cycle, Anne hires instructors who share the mentality she strives to foster. For Anne and her instructors, being a cycling instructor isn't just a part-time job; it's about providing an experience for people. She believes it's important to focus on hiring and training, and a big part of that should be on how the prospective employee matches and fits within your company culture. “Focus on the culture fit first, but also invest time in training,” Anne says. Before even thinking about training, make sure you're hiring someone who shares your company's mentality.

Establish a Clear Training Strategy

When you're confident that a new staff member shares your company's goals and attitudes, have a solid plan for how you want them to be trained. There are many strategies out there for creating productive training. Don't be afraid to test out a few different methods to find the best fit for your goals, budget and staff size; just remember to keep the actual training information consistent.

One effective way to manage employee training is to set up a staff-mentor system. Not only does a mentoring system help new hires get acquainted and comfortable with current staff, but it's also a great "refresher" for the mentors of their own expectations, duties and company goals. Pairing an experienced employee with a new employee can help develop important skills, improve team morale and build confidence for both parties. It also ensures training is consistent as mentors pass on the training and knowledge they received.

You may also want to consider trying a “lunch and learn” training session. Providing a catered lunch session for employees doesn't interfere with their normal training schedule, gives them an incentive to attend, and it makes group training possible. If you're struggling to make a plan or simply don't have the time to be involved in all employee training, consider using a webinar or workshop that specializes in the necessary training.

Keep it Consistent

However you decide to train your employees, ensure that it's consistent. If possible, compile all training information and any resources into a physical handbook or digital format. It's a great reference for new staff members after training and it provides specific information about their job description, expectations, instructions and other necessary information in writing.

Keep Communication Open and Positive

Training may end after a few days or weeks, but communication shouldn't. Employee training is an ongoing commitment. Your team is always learning new information, habits, and adjusting behaviors for success. Make sure they know they can come to you at any point during or after the process by keeping communication open. Check in on them and let them know they can reach out to you (or another point of contact) with any further questions or needs.

Being positive and supportive about a new hire's performance helps give them the confidence they need to become a strong contributor to the team and to represent your brand well. Staying confident about their fit within the company, their training and their future helps them trust their abilities and puts you both on the path to success.

Coaching programs can help take your business's customer service to the next level. Whether you train your entire team or focus your attention on a customer-facing seg-ment of your operation, your coaching program can help you build and maintain a strong reputation.