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Training Systems

Training is not an expense. It's an investment into the future success of your business. As you know, all aspects of your business must continuously evolve, especially your people.

We can divide training into the two broad categories of external and internal training. External training involves the use of outside experts. Internal training involves the many ways your company can provide its own training to your employees.

External Training

There are a vast number of resources available for external training. You can send employees to a consultant, trade school, university, and so forth, or you can bring specialized consultants or trainers in to train your employees exclusively.

When using external training sources, be sure you know what you're looking for before committing yourself to anything. Training by nature will have an effect on your employees. The big question is, will it have a positive or negative effect? If a training seminar does not mix well with your corporate culture, you may be wasting more than just money.

The major advantage of external training is it allows you to make use of the expertise of specialists outside your organization. This can have the effect of bringing a fresh perspective with fresh ideas into your business. Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily work that we can no longer see any way to do something other than the way we have always done it. An outside perspective can often open up our minds to new ideas.

Internal Training

There are, however, a number of advantages to internal training as well. Cost is one of them. It's generally less expensive to conduct your own training programs than it's to using outside services. Certain types of training also entail internal training more than external training. For example, little point in bringing in outside help to teach your employees to use a new business system you have just designed.

Internal training requires more up-front planning on your part, but once you've designed a program, it's yours forever to do with as you please. Three examples of internal training are role playing, shadowing and coaching.

Role Playing

One of the best methods to improve retention rates of your training programs is “role-playing.” People learn and remember much faster and more permanently when they practice something first hand. On-the-job training is ideal, but may not always be practical.

Before a new receptionist answers her first phone call, for example, it would be advantageous if she had the opportunity to practice in a “safe environment” first. New sales people should role play before they “go live,” but even experienced sales people should have the opportunity to role play a sales call or meeting before the actual event. First impressions in sales are incredibly important, and practice in this area will work out a lot of bugs and jitters beforehand.

Role playing, or acting, provides that safe environment. It's the next best thing to being there. It gives your employees the opportunity to practice their skills with the benefit of immediate feedback, but without the risk of negatively impacting the company.


This training method has your trainees observe your more experienced employees perform their jobs. They may act as assistants, if appropriate, but your main purpose is to have them observe an expert in action. Afterward, there should be a debriefing session to help them get the most out of the process.


Eventually, every new employee must begin his job. In fact, the sooner the better. At this point, a new form of hands-on training should begin. This is the form of training we discussed at the beginning of this chapter called coaching. Coaching is on-the-job, real-time training that provides your employees with direct feedback and support. It can help reinforce the ideas your employees learned in their other training programs. Without this reminder, the improvements they've made up until now can disappear. Without reinforcement, there's a natural tendency to revert back to what you already know, especially when times get tough.

When times do get tough, however, managers and others who act as coaches must avoid the temptation to take over. Coaching is the process of helping people help themselves. It does not step in and replace your employees’ mistakes with corrections; it points out their mistakes and offers solutions so the mistakes are not repeated. Otherwise, people will learn to defer all of their difficulties to someone else, usually their manager, promoting an environment that runs counter to the entire philosophy of this program and the proper development of your business.

Coaching is also an excellent place to make use of your superstars. They have the skills and the knowledge, so why not let your newer employees learn from them? A word of caution, however: Never assume just because someone is good at his job, he's good at teaching. You will probably want to set up guidelines in order to govern the process.

A Combination of Internal and External Training

You may also combine internal and external training methods in a variety of ways.

For example, you can purchase generic training programs, which become the foundation for in-house training programs. In other words, your trainers teach using someone else’s program. Alternatively, you could send key employees out to be trained externally, and then have them act as trainers internally.

No matter how you choose to train your people, make sure learning is a part of your corporate culture. The success of the process will depend on your trainers’ effectiveness (external or internal), your managers’ follow-up efforts, and your employees’ willingness to learn. This may seem obvious, but it's easy to shift the blame around when things are not going well. The clear message is everyone involved plays an important role.

Don’t forget about your superstars. You may not realize it, but they need training and support too. All too often we take the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach with those who are doing well, giving all of our attention to the stragglers. The assumption is that the superstars will ask for help if they need it. But this is not always the case. Ironically, if you leave them alone too long, they may begin to feel neglected or taken for granted. So while your superstars may need less help than most, remember that they want to develop too. In fact, personal and professional growth may be even more important to them than it's to others. That’s why they are superstars in the first place.

“You can change behaviour in an entire organization, provided you treat training as a process, rather than an event.”

- Edward W. Jones - General Cinema Beverages Inc.

Identify Your Training Needs

The following points will help you to fill out the tracking needs form below.

  1. What are the immediate and ongoing training needs of your business? List the areas you feel are currently your weakest. It’s also a good idea to collect input from your employees concerning the training that would best complement their work.

  2. What types of training would allow your employees to better accomplish their jobs? List your possible training resources. Are any of these resources available within your organization, or will you need to go outside? For example, you may be able to set up an internal apprentice program whereby experienced workers help to train the newer ones. On the other hand, you may wish to bring in a consultant to conduct a customer service seminar with your front-line staff.

  3. When will the training be done and how long will it take? You should also consider how much time you can afford to devote to it.

  4. How much will the training cost and what is its potential value? Based on this, you'll be able to decide if it's cost effective. If it's not, you will need to find a way to make it less expensive or else take it off your list.

Use the form below to organize your training needs.

Training NeedsSourceTime frameValueCost
HTML UpgradeWorkshop1 Month$1000/mo$1000

Design Your Training Systems

This will involve mostly in-house training, although your out sourced training programs will require some coordination as well.

Based on your current needs, create the training systems you will need to develop.

In this chapter you should have designed, shared, and made a plan to review your:

  • Recruiting System.
  • Hiring System.
  • Orientation and Setup System.
  • Employee Review System.
  • Career Development System.
  • Employee Exit System.
  • Training Strategy.
  • Training Systems.