Unskilled staff is one of the biggest headaches for small businesses – in fact, over half (51%) of SME owners cite their lack of skilled staff as an obstacle that’s stopping them from achieving their growth potential.
How do you counteract this problem without breaking your businesses’ budget? There are two paths you could take: put an advert out and start seeking a new staff member who has the skills you need, or choose to invest in your existing employees and train them to become the dream team member.
Training your staff seems like a time-consuming endeavour, but hiring a new staff member, with additional wages and recruitment fees to pay, can often be more expensive than retaining and training an existing staff member.
Learning and Development Manager, Melanie Berman, has over 20 years of experience in managing and training staff. Below are her excellent questions to ask and tips to know if you’re planning on expanding your staff’s skillset. Put down the recruitment advert and read these before you do anything else.
Consider your team (and yourself!)
- What knowledge do they need to be able to do their role effectively?
Is your staff ready to be trained? Some new skills require a certain knowledge base, so a period of education may be required before the nitty-gritty training starts.
- What skills do they need for them to do their role effectively?
Time to narrow down exactly what your staff member needs to know (as opposed to what you want them to know). In an ideal world, all employees would be well-rounded individuals and possess every skill in the book, but that’s not necessarily an achievable goal for just one person. Put pen to paper and figure out which skills their job role, and your business, needs.
- What behaviours do you expect to be evident in their role?
How will you be measuring success? Much like writing a job specification when hiring a new employee, you need to establish how your employee should be performing once they’ve been trained. As always, when embarking on a project you need an overall goal to motivate and use as a metric for achievement.
- Are there areas which all staff must have training on? For example, Health and Safety, Data Protection, Fraud prevention, Equality and Diversity?
It’s not always about the individual – it’ll be both cost and time-effective to train multiple employees at once, so consider the big picture skills-wise.
- Do they manage staff?
If so, they need to be trained in core areas of HR-related policies: absence management, disciplinary, grievance and capability, recruitment and selection, performance management. The list can go on.
Think about company objectives from a base level
- You need to consider your training plans from the bottom up. Any individual’s training must be linked to their performance management objectives, and a development plan will come naturally from these.
- All employee development plans must link into departmental objectives – an overarching strategy that links all inter-team employees.
- All departmental objectives must then link to your overall corporate objectives. A solid plan such as this means all training will be relevant to your business goals (and not to mention, give an immense sense of achievement in your own organisation!)
Before you start…
- What is the gap between where they are now and where they need to be?
There’s no point in making detailed plans if you’re overambitious in your scheming. Realistically assess your employees before embarking on any training project to make sure they’re capable of hitting your targets in the timeframe allocated.
- Are any of your employees on a talent path, aspiring to the next level or a different role?
A truly considerate employer will give their workers room to grow. Try to understand their personal goals and you may find that your vacant, skilled position is the next step on one of your staff member’s career ladder. Don’t let them go unnoticed!
- What is the best method or learning solution?
Finally, once your plans are in place, you need to decide how to go about retraining. Will you simply be handing out literature to read and revise, or will you be sending somebody on a course? There’s also coaching, eLearning, videos, practical job experience, networking or being given a brand new project – there’s more than one way to get the job done.
Still convinced that you need to hire somebody new in? Find out the important things you need to look for in a candidate, but don’t forget to revisit these tips when they’re ready to move to the next level in your business…