Good Training Needs a Sound Strategy

“Training is a valuable investment in your staff,” says Debbie Hiss, director of sales training for Lazare Kaplan International Inc. “It increases loyalty to the company, improves employee retention, creates better operations, and produces a happier, more cohesive staff.”

Such an important investment can’t be done haphazardly, she warns. “Training requires strategic planning. The more time and preparation, the better the results.”

Hiss made her comments to an audience of about 160 people during the educational program “Preparing Your Training Strategy” on Thursday. She explained how any jeweler can devise an effective training plan. Following are some of her suggestions:

First, determine who specifically needs the training and why they need it. Decide whether you will do the training or bring in an outside trainer. “Knowing a product or having an expertise doesn’t always guarantee you’ll be successful in conveying that knowledge,” said Hiss. “Also, you might not have the resources or time to provide this particular training yourself.”

Decide what skills or behaviors you want your people to have or exhibit, and develop your learning objectives accordingly “This is the cornerstone,” said Hiss. “What should they be able to do at the conclusion of the training? You must have a clear sense of what you want them to master.” That should be clearly conveyed to the employees.

Devise a simple course plan that defines the training’s objective, content, time frame, and teaching methods (e.g., presentations, materials, activities). Have a checklist of ‘the course at a glance” to refer to during teaching. Determine what equipment and resources you need and get them ahead of time. Don’t forget about room layout, which can affect presentation.

Incorporate ESP into your training strategy, said Hiss. “Explain it in words; show it with videos, projections, pictures, etc.; and practice it with games, role play, and similar methods. Remember, she noted, it takes six repetitions of learning a skill before it becomes part of a student’s knowledge.

The best measure of a sound training strategy, said Hiss, is when participants learn so well they outdo you. “That’s the best reward—sharing the power of your knowledge and seeing your employees using it effectively throughout your company.”