Can Companies with fewer than 500 employees do effective training and should they?

Posted on by Excell Staff

Dave Shapiro Puget Sound Executive Coach
Universally, companies with fewer that 500 employees are pretty poor at training employees.  The reasons for this are understandable and many, starting with flat organizations, populated by doers and a mindset that people are hired to add value. 
The reasons that training becomes more important to a company as it grows from 15 to 50 10 120 employees are just as universal: employees stop providing as much value if they are not challenged and developed; self-learners are extremely rare; companies whose employees, processes and systems don’t improve get stuck/complacent at points in their growth. 
So, what’s a CEO/Company to do?  Here are a few options that reduce risk, improve sustainable growth and provide size appropriate focus to the training that is needed:  Recognize training is important and that training is something you model; not what your company can train and what training it may not be able to provide. 
If you are an executive or business owner without a coach, then you don’t yet recognize that training is important or that it is something you model.  I know of no professional athlete who is without a trainer/coach.  Maybe they know something you don’t know?  If you are getting coaching ask yourself how much you are communicating its value to your team/employees?  Do you have goals for the coaching you receive and do you share those goals/KPI’s?  Do you include your key reports in the coaching process? 
As to training others… I have found that in most companies of the 15 and 50 employee size, that they are best at technical training, next best at operational training and usually weakest in training leadership, management and supervisory skills (soft skills:  communication, professional improvement, etc.).  These are important roles/skills and tools.  They should be a part of employees professional improvement plan and there should be some budget attached to the training involved. 
Back to the technical training…. If you make something, provide a service or distribute something, the knowledge base and tools to do it and do it better are likely to be within your and your employees wheelhouse.  Meaning that you have best practices, skills and tools that can be taught.  The companies that do this the best focus on three aspects of training: the provide training in very narrow areas and cross train; they train people to train and make the training a constant part of employee’s jobs. 

So, what works in your company?  How did you initiate training?  How did you make sure that training was a part of what everyone does? 

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