Fundamentals For Building Effective #Retail Training Program
When I speak to other Retail Culture or Training & Development leaders I can almost hear them (or see them) cringe when I explain that our Training Program is an 8-12 months investment in our new hires and our employees. But then, I am able to help them understand through our retention, profits, and employee engagement results how effective our program is.
In 2012 when I created our training program I, literally, had to start from scratch. Even though I had worked in retail for 16 years, at that point, I’d never really experienced great training as a new hire and I had NEVER been developed (other than my personal passion to self-develop). Training, typically, revolved around how to read reports, how to work the company email, how to fill out the (incredibly boring and ineffective [but I digress]) Store Visit forms or department assessments. That is it. As a matter of fact, in one specific week long “training”, I remember, teaching my “trainer” about reading reports and how to impact metrics by finding the two or three reports that are most relevant to moving the needle on their business and providing guidance to them for their market.
So…I committed to create a program that was engaging, had a balance between learning and OTJ training, that gave people the opportunity to learn about areas of the business they were unfamiliar with, and that would show how committed we are to investing in their future.
An Effective #Retail Training Program Needs To Have the Following Components:
(1) Develop Meaningful and Motivational Goals
These were the key points that I wanted to be able to impact with a training program. I also wanted the employees to:
(1) Learn in their style for the greatest engagement and comprehension
I needed to build a program catered to the variety of learning styles so I focused on the top three (1) Auditory/Listening, (2) Spatial/Seeing, and (3) Kinesthetic/Touch and created versions of the program that would support these styles.
(2) Develop skills around what they know to focus on improving competencies and learning new competencies that are relevant to our business model and customer experience expectation
(3) To keep pace with the employees learning curve
We place a tremendous amount of value on the diversity of our team members. Not only from an HR point of view but from an experience point of view. We, as most retailers [hopefully] do, look for the right fit for a role and employees who are very high-potential. People who possess the personality to fit into and contribute the culture of our workplace; AND people who are a fit to fulfill the job description responsibilities. Our employees are not “cookie cutter” so our training program isn’t either.
Here is a link a previous post of mine titled “Developing Talent In Retail” which provides some additional detail on my training program that are in place to further grow and up-skill the competency level of our team members. In early 2013 I was able to begin tracking and measuring the performance results of the training program and other programs I’d instituted and was thrilled to see that our company results in the following areas all performed significantly better than industry average:
-Our Customer Service – 22% improvement YOY
Training and development isn’t a one size fits all program and it is infinitely more than checking boxes for compliance. It is more than a three or four page document to follow. It is about engagment, immersion into the culture, building partnership and work relationships with other employees, having fun, investing in the future of each employee and developing them to help them achieve their career objectives in retail – this is the type of program that benefits everyone in the long term.