Training Gossip Doesn’t Work: Implement a Method of Training that Does Work

April 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jeff Smelley - Also by this author

One of the greatest deficiencies I observe in dealerships is the lack of proper training. Most dealers under-invest in staff training to their own detriment. The typical scenario is that a dealer will invest in training upon initial implementation of a new system, but will choose to forego supplemental, ongoing training due to the mistaken belief that it is not needed. Failure to continue staff training limits the effectiveness of personnel and diminishes the effectiveness of your new or existing system.

The perception, in many cases, is that employees should be able to “pick up” additional skills by just performing their jobs day to day. The truth is that people tend to gravitate to a routine. Once this routine is established, they will cease looking for better methods of performing their jobs and utilizing available resources. At this point, efficiency and effectiveness suffer due, not to limitations in your system or method, but to limitations in initiative on the part of your employees. The most direct counter to the malaise of daily routine is ongoing training.

Employee turnover is another contributor to ineffective use of your technology resources.  Employee to employee training is akin to gossip. If one person tells another a story and it is then relayed to several other people, the story will become more distorted as it travels from one person to another. Training exhibits the same characteristic. For every person that trains another person some of the original information is lost or distorted. Therefore, the quality of information disseminated will deteriorate with each retelling.

In a learning situation, no one takes in 100 percent of the information presented. We may hear all of it, but effectively retaining everything you heard or saw is beyond an individual’s ability. The average individual experiences a 10 percent to 15 percent retention rate of new information presented during a typical training session. Therefore, multiple training sessions are required to reach the 80 to 90 percent knowledge level for above average performance. A training curriculum is needed to build on the foundation knowledge, or the fundamentals of the job, acquired during previous training sessions.

Don’t assume your newly hired, or promoted, staff member possesses a clear understanding of the job they are undertaking. Assuming prior knowledge leads to poor job performance, high turnover rates, and employer dissatisfaction. Structure your training program much like building a house. Develop a plan that is complete and will include all of the aspects necessary for success. Build a foundation that will support the entire structure and then go about building the knowledge and competence of your staff that will assure success.

Let’s face it, you did not get where you are today by attending a 3-hour, 1-day or even a weeklong seminar. You likely got there by a progression of training and experience over a period of years. In my experience, the best training methods include classroom instruction, followed by hands-on experience to assimilate the classroom knowledge into working knowledge. Applying the “theory” learned, in classroom or one-on-one training, creates a deeper understanding of the subject matter, which facilitates advancing to the next level of performance. Designing your training program to repeat this cycle of instruction and hands-on application will take your staff to the heights of performance that is required for the success of your business. Doing so will mean higher employee retention and greater productivity, therefore resulting in greater profits.

Education should be an ongoing commitment. Accept it, plan for it, budget for it and then execute the plan.

Vol 5, Issue 2

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