Imagine you are at a restaurant or a friend’s house savoring a delicious meal, where one of the dishes makes all your senses come alive. The taste is phenomenal, the smell is contagious, you feel like singing as you eat it and more importantly you are trying to identify that one ingredient that is making this dish so unforgettable. But, what is it?
In my 20 year career consulting for Strategic Enhancement Group I have come across a handful of companies that are truly successful in implementing a training strategy that yields business results. As I observe them closely, I recognize that the common denominator is that ingredient that seems difficult to identify at first, but it is fairly simple: One True Leader!
Here is how a handful of organizations are improving performance, profitability and productivity one employee at a time.
- The leaders in these organizations are very clear on what their skill gaps are in regards to their overall business strategies.
- They are committed to implementing training that is strategic, not just a “check the box” task that needs to be done.
- They are involved.
- They coach and mentor their people to the new behaviors.
- They provide skill development and expect delivery of high performance as a result of all the support they are providing.
- They are focused on the strategy, but flexible to change it when needed.
- They keep the big picture in mind, but are very tactical in their approach to deliverables.
- They are focused on their customers – they understand that ultimately the customer is what matters.
- They are caring towards their people and passionate about their jobs.
As a result, these are leaders that make a difference. One example is a client of mine whose mission was to deliver results in a relatively short period of time. The goal was to go from $250 million to $1 billion in 5 years. They not only exceeded their goal of 5 years, but made it to $3.7 billion at the 10 year mark. This was due to a diligent leader who recognized a skill gap in their highly technical salesforce. Mind you, in this business, most of their salespeople were highly educated in their field of expertise, but not necessarily good salespeople.
Now, here is why this simple ingredient is so fundamental to an organization. Fast forward 12 years and the sales leader retires.New leadership comes in place and the new salespeople are not receiving reinforcement for the training they received. No coaching and mentoring from leadership but instead a “please go meet your sales goals” attitude.
The Results: Sales declined so much that the organization is now in a state of chaos. Long time salespeople left for other organizations in a similar industry, productivity went down and leaders were left “scratching” their heads as to what had happened! What is even more shocking is that this took place in an industry that is highly competitive and keeping momentum in place is critical to long term success.
The new sales leader soon left the company and again new leadership came in who then called back the retired sales leader to consult and get the house in order.
This is one example that almost seems like a made up story, but it is true. On the contrary, I have seen the opposite happen in another client of mine. The sales leader needed to train their sales force and wanted to ensure their salespeople are consultative in nature. So they trained all of them but left them to figure out how to make it happen after the training.
The results in this case are very different. The highest performing salespeople continued to deliver. The remainder of the sales force either left due to the pressure to perform or stayed flying “under the radar” and hoping not to be noticed. Sales continued to be flat but now the sales leadership had a scapegoat: “Training did not work!” Of course, it didn’t! Training people is just one component of a process to change behavior and improve performance.
In these situations, both organizations invested time and money in training their people. But neither got a good return on their investment. Why not make the most of the time and money that you invest in training? Reinforcing training is not easy, and it takes a true leader to commit to doing it, but the return is worth it!
If you would like to learn more about how we can help your organization create great results, please contact us!