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How to tackle learning and development for small business

Employees are your business’ lifeline! As a business owner it is your duty to develop your staff so they can achieve their full potential. You owe it to yourself to invest the time and money in developing new and existing employees as if not trained properly even the high achievers will fail to deliver.

It’s not just about training (i.e. sending people on a 3 day course). It is ultimately about engaging with your people and this is underpinned by feedback and coaching.

So, if training and development is not just about sending people on a course, then what is it? Essentially, it is about coaching people and having conversations that help you learn why your people do what they do, and what their ambitions and goals are. Also, it is a tool to develop them further. Do you really know your people, and are they going to stay with you?

Learning and development does not have to be complicated, and it does not have to cost a fortune.   Many people assume attending a training course is the only way to learn something new. We think this is a cop out and that lazy leaders who can’t be bothered coaching use this old approach. Basically, they simply say, ‘Ok – you want to learn time management skills? I’ll send you on a course.’

We believe learning is underpinned by effective feedback and coaching, and we also believe that most learning naturally occurs on the job. Think about it, have you ever attended a training course? The course material is crammed into two days, or a one-hour tutorial, and sticks in your mind for a short time, but if the learning is not followed by some practical doing, it is lost and forgotten. Coaching makes sense, as sending someone on a two-day course is not going to help him or her become a better employee. Ongoing coaching, mentoring and honest feedback are what help people develop and learn.

Focusing on coaching and feedback as a tool for learning and development makes business sense. Also, feedback as a learning tool is completely free. Yes that is correct, it costs you nothing to sit down with an employee and give them some honest feedback and coaching.

Latest research indicates that this is the way that actual learning happens:

70% – On the job through coaching and seeing what others do

20% – Ongoing feedback, coaching, and mentoring

10% – Formal training – external training, formal qualifications, internal training, online training

Yet so many businesses focus on providing ‘formal training’ and end up wasting a whole bunch of money when 90% of learning actually occurs through the provision of providing feedback and spending time coaching people!

If you haven’t already guessed it, we think that every business should move away from formal training programs as the first (or only) option, and become a workplace that really believes in coaching and feedback.

If you need assistance with learning and development in your workplace one of our highly experienced Gurus can help. Give us a call on 1300 959 560.

This blog is written by resident HR Guru Natalie Bol.

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