Table of Contents
Modern companies and organizations clearly see the importance of employee training. Any business should demonstrate regular implementation of innovations and professional development of workers to stay competent and up-to-date. For example, a small retail company should focus on customer service trainings to improve the knowledge and skills of the employees. Such steps as regular needs assessment, development and implementation of trainings (modeling, on-the-job activities and role-playing) will help a small company to encourage employees to highly estimate the effectiveness of the training programs and actively participate in them.
Employee’s Needs Assessment
Stewart and Kenneth (2014) correctly stated that in order for the trainings to be effective, they should be systematically implemented in the company. The authors mention three basic components of a productive training, which are an employee’s needs assessment, design and delivery, and evaluation (Stewart & Kenneth, 2014). There is no doubt that all the named components are equally important. However, a retail company in training employees on customer service should firstly consider the needs assessment. Since the company is small, it should wisely manage its budget. Needs assessment will help it “to determine who should be trained and what the training should include” (Stewart & Kenneth, 2014, p. 340). Needs assessment as a concept is always changing and, as training development is a systematic process, a new evaluation of the employees’ needs should constantly take place (Stewart & Kenneth, 2014). A continuous process of needs assessment consists of separate stages, which will help to expose the existing deficiencies in the company in five different ways. First, organizational analysis conveys the information about the strategic goals, resources and environment of the company, demonstrates its weaknesses and determines for whom the training will be useful. Second, task analysis will assist in identifying the working activities performed by the employees and the skills they lack. Third, person analysis will show the deficiencies of an employee’s work and his preparedness for training. Fourth, problem identification should be individually applied to each employee. At this stage, the connection between these issues and the company’s activities should be determined. Finally, casual analysis will identify the origins of the challenges, which employees face. Now, the results of this analysis can be implemented into the training plan (Stewart & Kenneth, 2014). Therefore, a needs assessment is a very important step, which helps to see which company’s problems a productive training may solve.
Training Implementation Plan and Methods
Being prepared for customer service training and collecting the necessary data are the primary stages of training implementation. It is also important to develop a complete training implementation plan. It will consist of the following stages:
- determination of the customer needs (it is important to know which level of service the customers of your company expect). It will be useful to survey customers or ask them to share their opinions and suggestions.
- assessment of the skills of each employee on the basis of the quality of the service he or she offers to the customers (an HR manager or an experienced worker can do it by just observing how an employee works with clients and which outcomes he or she demonstrates)
- training method design (it is essential to choose the training methods, which are appropriate for a small retail company, like role play, modeling and on-the-job activities) (Stewart & Kenneth, 2014).
- regular progress tracking (this step includes regular needs assessment, discussed above, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the training on the development of the employees’ skills).
Thus, a customer service training implementation plan consists of four equally important stages, which ensure a complex approach to constant employee development.
Effective Training Methods for a Small Retail Company
A stage of designing training methods is worth special attention, because a small retail company has its specific expectations for the training program. There are many training methods from which to choose. The effectiveness of a program depends on the choice of the upper management and the work of the HR specialists. Since the considered training program deals with employees and customers, the most reasonable method is on-the-job training. This selection is appropriate, since “some on-the-job training methods could apply equally to knowledge or skill training” (Stewart & Kenneth, 2014). Chao (1997) states that an unstructured training, which includes open for modifications on-the-job training programs, usually takes place with the presence of experienced colleagues and supervisors. As a result, “these structured experiences have more potential to be important lessons than those from off-the-job formal programs” (Chao, 1997, p. 138). Two more training methods, which may be effective in case of customer service training, are modeling and role-play. Stewart and Kenneth (2014) believe that role-playing helps trainees develop human relation and interpersonal skills. Behavior modeling is a powerful instrument for the skills improvement. It promotes teamwork and gives trainees a chance to observe real-life situations between an employee and a customer and analyze their behaviors (Stewart & Kenneth, 2014). Thus, even though presentations and discussions may also be quite effective training models, on-the-job, modeling and role-play are definitely the best choices for retail companies who deal directly with customers.
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Ways to Motivate Employees Attend Training Classes
There is no doubt that many upper managers strive to understand how to keep their employees motivated for work and trainings. Current economic situation in the world may make workers lose interest in their professional activities, especially if business has troubles. Each employee of a small company should understand that if his directors offer training for him/her, they believe in his/her potential and an employee has no moral right to refuse. However, this idea does not serve as a sufficient argument for many workers and some special motivation techniques should be applied. Burton (2012) defines two types of employee motivational techniques, such as financial and non-financial. In case of motivating employees to attend a training class, financial method may be used only hypothetically. An upper management promise to his or her employee that he will receive a higher salary, when he eliminates deficiencies from his work and develops new skills, may be a good motivation for some workers. However, the research demonstrated that financial incentives are not as important for employees as professional recognition (Burton, 2012). Thus, two most effective methods for motivating employees to participate in training in a small retail company include individual development of each trainee and an opportunity for job rotation and systematic non-financial rewards and appraisals within the training course (Burton, 2012). Rotation opens new perspectives for a worker and makes him express his own vision on an effective training. “It is a great training tool so that the employee can have a better understanding of all that jobs that are done in the organization” (Burton, 2012, p. 22). Thus, it inspires a trainee to self-develop. Rewards may take different forms and depend on the personality of an employee and his position. It may include public appraisal and recognition, and e-mails from the administration (Burton, 2012). If the company knows its employees well, it is possible for the HR management to find the most effective methods to motivate workers for training and constant improvement.
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A Survey to Assess the Effectiveness of Trainings
Developing and implementing training are complicated tasks for any company. One more obligatory stage of any training program is to assess whether the training was useful for the employees. Stewart and Kenneth (2014) note that “the designs most commonly used in organizations are called post-test only designs. This means that training outcomes are measured only at the end of training for the training group” (p. 365 ). Thus, all trainees may also be offered a specific survey. It will use Likert scale and have the same answer options: “Strongly agree”, “Agree”. Neutral”, “Disagree”, “Strongly disagree”. The statements will be divided into four sections:
I. Individual (subjective) perception of the training program:
- The training program is designed according to the needs of trainees
- The participants of training were assisted in determining and evaluating their needs during the training sessions.
- The administration understands the necessity to conduct these trainings for its workers.
- There is a strong correlation between the training programs and the needs of the workers in terms of professional development.
II. Objective evaluation of the training:
- Training objectives are clear and followed within the training sessions.
- Training purposes are related to the main strategic goals of the company.
- Training objectives are designed by a team of practical experts and are not limited by some theoretical foundations.
III. Trainee’s performance evaluation:
- Trainees’ performance was assessed before, during and after the training.
- The evaluation of training results is important for you.
- The trainees regularly received an appropriate feedback and evaluation.
- Training demonstrated an obvious increase in the professional abilities of the trainees.
- Training sessions improved professional skills of the workers, as well as their knowledge and responsibility level.
- Trainings have an important role in improving customer-employee relationship and increasing the level of sales.
IV. Trainee’s profile
- Trainee’s knowledge level was measured before the training and the training was designed specifically for him.
- Job profile of each worker is considered while preparing an individual training program.
- While developing a training evaluation survey, a trainee’s profile is also taken into consideration.
V. The effectiveness of training methods:
- Training programs include a sufficient volume of theoretical and practical material.
- Training delivery methodology is strictly observed.
- You take an active part in all training activities.
VI. Trainer’s personality and professional level:
- You think trainings should be taken more seriously.
- You feel that training is a continuous and a systematic process.
- Training helped to reduce the distance between workers and their supervisors.
- You feel that most trainers are experienced and professional.
- All trainers have developed communicative and teaching skills.
These questions cover the most important aspects of the trainee’s perception of a training program. It is also important to have some space left in a survey to give trainees a chance to convey some additional ideas and give their recommendations. Therefore, completing such a survey is a final stage of a training program.
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Conclusion and Recommendations
To conclude, it is worth noting that continuous employee education, trainings and motivation can quickly make business of any scale successful. Having a task to develop a training program for a small retail company, an HR leader should keep in mind that needs of the employees should be properly evaluated and some motivation methods should be developed to interest the workers. Effective training methods discussed above and an individual approach to each worker will make the development of their professional skills effective and demonstrate positive survey results.