Training is the Road to People Development
At a training seminar I conducted several years ago in Dallas, Texas,
I was criticized by Stanley Marcus, former president and Chief
Executive officer of Neiman Marcus Department Stores. He was
adamant that the word, ‘training,’ is for animals and not to be used
for people. He thought the word training was demeaning. I deferred
to his seniority but still stand in respect of Webster’s dictionary which
defines training as “to instruct so as to make proficient or qualified.”
Throughout time, we have found that the word training has remained
a viable description for educating and improving the skills of people.
We train the military, we train emergency personnel on disaster
response, nurses on hospital procedures and we train our personnel
on methods and techniques. Training is a vital part of management’s
job. It allows the employee to practice methods in a stress free
environment where errors can be observed and corrected without
costing the company in lost business.
Training includes much more than methodology; it must also include
information on existing and new services/products, technological
updates, and practices in written and verbal communication. Don’t
assume that things you mention to an employee are training. Training
should be organized and ongoing.
In order to be successful in today’s marketplace, the employee
should not only manage their time effectively but also be able to
operate their own virtual office. In this electronic age of the Internet,
cell phones, laptop computers, and web-based video conference
calls, employees must be proficient with the various software
programs and devices that are involved in their job function.
The type of training in the past will not work today – training today
must be directed to make the employee more knowledgeable and
attuned to the needs or wants of the target market.
For example, in sales, the sales manager who formulates a training
program which focuses on a solid foundation of selling methodology
allows the salesperson to practice their sales presentation, and offers
ways to answer common objections, is sure to see a marked increase
in performance and closing rate as a result.
There is nothing wrong with salespeople learning how to develop
methods in which to close sales and gain relationships. We
are not talking about using trick methods or gimmicks – these
selling “techniques” are dinosaurs that belong to the distant past
and will never work in today’s market. What we are talking about is
raising the salesperson’s awareness of the mechanics of the sale, the
personal selling methods, the presentation expertise and the ways to
negotiate a sale.
Whether it is a product or service related, all organizations need
to make provisions for formal training. Have you ever gone into a
business and been turned off by the receptionist’s attitude? Training
programs that include speaking skills and writing skills are more in
demand today because many employees are not properly trained in
these two essential tools.
Companies that are getting the edge over competition are
incorporating communication training as part of the training program.
Show me a successful business and I will show you an ongoing
training program focusing on product knowledge, people skills
(empathy training), selling skills, mathematical skills, individual
management skills and communication skills. The training program
must encompass all facets of the business in order to provide the
employee with a well-rounded foundation upon which to build his
or her job function. The bottom line is that we are in the ‘people
development’ business. As you build the skills of your people so will
you build the business.
Should the word training sessions trouble you like it did Mr. Marcus,
you can call them motivational sessions, learning seminars, etc. or as
Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by
any other name would smell as sweet.”
Excerpts from the book, The Real World Guide to Selling &
Management, Gerald J. Sherman & Sar S. Perlman. Fairchild Books,
Division of Conde Nast Publications