Remember back to the 1st grade…Now imagine standing up in front of your 20 classmates, sharing something about your day or teaching something you learned from the encyclopedia. Even though it may be a friendly audience, it can still be nerve racking – especially if you have a speech impediment that makes you very self-conscious and you’re hoping no one will laugh at you because they can’t understand what you’re saying due to your speech impediment.
Now imagine you’ve completed this task, and your audience is clapping and the leaders of the group are acknowledging the fine job you’ve done. This experience could help boost the confidence of a young child, making him or her less likely to fear speaking in front of groups and improve his or her speaking abilities.
Well, this was a reality of my childhood. Every night, my parents had one of us kids speak in front of the rest of the family to share a part of ourselves, but also to create a learning environment. This experience provided me with a venue to practice my speaking skills, laugh at myself (and my speech impediment that required four years of speech therapy) and become comfortable speaking in front of groups.
These early lessons translated to my profession, where I speak in front of large audiences about business, the economy and professional development. In addition, this continuous improvement methodology that was ingrained in my mind from a young age has impacted my own professional growth, as well as the development of my team and my clients.
These early experiences came to mind just recently, as we’ve added numerous new employees to our team. My partners and I were talking and realized that our team needed to have experience and training on some things that we’ve taken for granted, like professionalism, customer service, business basics, etc. We began to identify a list of training topics and sharing when and where we learned some of these lessons in business. We came to the conclusion that we needed to create a stronger learning environment within our organization to not only improve the skill set and knowledge of our team members, but to also have a common methodology to approaching situations and problem solving. We all learned ‘business basics’ at one point, but because it’s now just part of who are or how we operate we forget it’s not common knowledge to everyone.
This reminded me of early in my career as a quality auditor for a nationwide self-storage operator, when my boss was training me in my new position. He allowed me to perform the audit of one of our facilities on my own while he also did his own audit. This was such an eye opening experience for me. He saw things that, based on his experience, were easy to identify, but that I had completely missed. He then walked me through each area and addressed his perspective verses mine. This was such a huge learning day for me that I still recall it easily almost 25 years later.
It taught me that with new employees you can’t assume they know how and what you want them to do. You have to create continuous learning opportunities for them to gain your insight and experience. You have to create a true learning environment.
Based on the conversation with my partners and reliving some of these earlier experiences, we have created an ongoing training program for our team. Twice a month for an hour, we are training them on various aspects of our business, our tools, our expectations and business basics.
After our first training just two weeks ago, our team was so excited to be learning. They are already performing at a different level. For a small investment of time, we believe our monthly training programs are going to accelerate our teams’ growth which in turn will accelerate our growth as a company.
If your team is not performing at your desired level of expectations, create a simple ongoing training program to share your insight and knowledge. Everyone has to learn what you know if you expect them to perform at the level you want. Reinforce the ‘business basics’ and stretch your team to new heights through learning.