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Five Essential Training Programs for EVERY Business

Updated on September 28, 2010

Tips for Essential Training Programs

Include Everyone
Include Everyone
Develop Internal Trainers
Develop Internal Trainers

Employee training and development, from the CEO to an entry level position, is as important to the success of a business as is their customers, products or services. Many businesses do an excellent job of providing training and developmental opportunities for all their employees. However, there are many businesses that provide little or no training for their employees. To make matters worse, training and development programs are often the first to be eliminated during a recession or slump in business. One reason for eliminating training programs is because of the fallacy that training and development is a perk or “nice-to-have” but not necessary for the success of the business.

Such a viewpoint could place your business in serious jeopardy! Why? Here are a few reasons why training and development are critical to your business:

  • Shows employees how to do their jobs correctly and efficiently
  • Minimizes the chances of getting into a legal quagmire
  • Provides timely feedback to correct or improve situations before the customer experiences it
  • Demonstrates to company’s desire to have the best employees in their industry
  • Promotes your business as a “best place” to work and/or do business with
  • Foundational for a healthy bottom line – Period!

Five Essential Training Programs

There are training and developmental programs, workshops, seminars, etc. on just about every imaginable business-related topic you can think of. However, there are five essential training programs I recommend for every business, especially small businesses. Before I list those five essential training programs, let me clarify one very important point. I use the term training “program” because the definition implies a series or courses on the topic. For example, you might have introductory, basic, intermediate, and advanced workshops within one of the five essential training programs.

The five Essential Training and Developmental Programs are:

  1. New Hire Orientation
  2. Harassment Prevention
  3. Performance Management
  4. Customer & Employee Engagement
  5. Management Development

New Hire Orientation

The New Hire Orientation program gets your newly hired employee off to the right start by getting their bearings focused on how the organization works and the importance of their role within the organization. Not only does the program address the basics such as benefits, policies, where to park, and so on, but the program will introduce the new hire to communication practices, customer profiles, product(s) or service(s) details, politics (Why not? It exists in every company), performance expectations and standards, safety procedures, to name a few topics. The programs also provides the new hire to meet key executives, managers, subject matter experts, and others with whom they may or may not interact with during the course of their employment. The more comprehensive the program is designed, the better it will be for ensuring a successful start.

The program should be divided into several sessions over the first three to six months of employment. The sessions should be facilitated by several key personnel within the organization, this give the new hire several perspectives to the business and how it works.

Harassment Prevention

The Harassment Prevention program should address the whys and how’s for preventing sexual harassment and other forms of workplace harassment. In California employers must provide two hours of sexual harassment training every two years for each supervisory employee.

The program should also include workplace violence prevention. According to the United States Department of Labor, workplace violence is an issue under safety and health. This is an opportunity to address other specific Federal and State safety & health concerns unique to your industry and business.

Harassment prevention sessions or workshop can be designed to be delivered in short session (one-to-two hours in length) and delivered in various formats (classroom, on-line, etc.). Once again, the key is to provide this training on a regular basis to keep it fresh on employee’s minds.

Performance Management

The Performance Management Program should include how to give and receive feedback, job performance expectations and goals, formal and informal job performance processes, etc. Performance management should be viewed as a process for developing all employees to achieve their work objectives. Thus, performance management is an on-going daily process and not just a formal appraisal given once a year.

When performance management is a daily process then employees will receive on-going feedback for addressing problems before they become a major issue or provide the praise and recognition for a job well-done. Consequently, performance management training is integrated into the everyday manager’s job to provide feedback and coach employee’s job performance.

Customer & Employee Engagement

This program provides employees with in-depth training on achieving customer satisfaction through employee engagement. The formula is simple: when you have your employees engaged in performing their jobs well then they pass on a positive experience to your customers. Engaged customers equals more business, which in turn leads to higher profits.

Customer & employee engagement should focus on developing relationships. Therefore training sessions should include practical ways to form positive relationships between employees and customers by demonstrating how meet the customer’s product/service requirements and their emotional needs.

Management Development

Since many employees are promoted through the ranks to a supervisory or management position, many of those same employees may not have developed critical management and leadership skills. Consequently, the program should include sessions on understanding one’s self (their management style) and how to effectively use that style in day-to-day work situations. Leadership skills founded on developing emotional intelligence will help managers develop less used skills and capitalize on their strengths.

Components for a management development program include communication, conflict resolution, problem-solving, decision making, relationship building, coaching, and teamwork. Other appropriate topics should be included based on your specific business requirements.

How to Ensure Success

Businesses with the best and successful training and development programs have the following characteristics:

  • Continuous – never a “one-time event”
  • Transparent – integrated into all aspects of the business’ culture
  • Welcomed – employees willingly and eagerly participate
  • Respected – employees understand how the bottom line is impacted

There are consultants that can guide you through developing the five essential training programs internally using in-house executives, managers, and/or other key personnel with training, teaching, or facilitating skills. A good train-the-trainer program will help develop internal trainers.

Employees are not fooled by short lived or “flavor of the month” training programs. Employees know the business is serious about training and development when everyone is involved and participates – from top to bottom. Therefore, before implementing any training program, be sure to have a goal and a strategy for achieving the goal. Include feedback from everyone in the organization through focus groups, surveys, participation in committees, etc.

If you are serious about having a successful and profitable business, then include the five essential training and development programs as part of your normal business operation. The investment is well worth the return!


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