Learning & development

One of the main goals of an L&D strategy is to improve employees’ performance. Your training sessions must result in a motivated and resourceful staff, one able to close more sales.

But how do you create a strategy that actually improves employee’s performance? Well, it is by basing your L&D strategy on facts and number and not on guesses and preconceived notions.

1) Compare performance to goals

Start by checking your company’s goals and comparing them to your employees’ achievements. Are they hitting the sales target? Are the best-selling products/service the ones you expected? What is the level of customer service satisfaction? Does your staff need help on how to ask for referrals?

Be prepared to spend some time doing this. If you have a large staff, share the load with a colleague. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes to find out what is interfering with their performance and how an L&D program can change it. It is an important step in every great workforce management strategy.

2) Have a chat with the employees

Once you finish doing the above, what you will have is a list of assumptions. Now it’s time to draw realistic conclusions.

For this, talk to each employee and hear their side of the story. Ask the questions you couldn’t figure out by yourself. But also give them the opportunity to show that some of your beliefs are wrong.

This is an excellent time to learn their impressions about past training sessions, their career goals, and their learning process. While you can’t create a strategy able to satisfy each salesperson, it can give you some guidelines about what needs to be addressed.

3) Talk to team leaders about staff’s performance

Team leaders are another critical source of information. They know who isn’t performing well and should have an idea why.

Yet, take their opinions with a pinch of salt. Some team leaders will think you are looking for someone to point fingers too. Make sure it’s clear you aren’t starting a witch hunt. Communicate that your mission is to implement an L&D strategy that will benefit everyone, and that is impossible to do if you are not aware of specific challenges and pain points that appear in practice.

4) Design L&D sessions based on how they learn

After identifying the challenges, it’s time for you to design your L&D strategy. Here is where the information you got about your employees’ learning process will play a part. Because, sometimes, it’s not about what you teach, but how.

Many people prefer to learn through writing materials, the way they used to do in school. But others retain more information if they see or hear it. Ideally, you should offer both options, but it might be unrealistic. So, choose the one that suits the majority. And provide support materials about the essential points of your L&D program in the other medium.

5) Link content to daily tasks

While planning your L&D sessions, always tie your instructions to everyday tasks. For instance, choose a couple of employees to pretend they are clients and let them ask difficult questions to your salespeople.

If the budget is there, you can go all out and hire a theatre group to enact real situations, such as a hard-to-convince customer, and show how to solve them. The most useful scenes are based on true facts – nicely fictionalized so as not to break any privacy law or embarrass someone. Then add a summary of the solutions to your handouts.

6) Use KPIs to measure employee’s performance

To ensure your workshops aren’t something people need to get over with, use Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to measure your staff’s achievements. They need to be countable items, such as the number of closed deals, number of positive reviews, number of monthly calls, average number of calls needed to close a sale, and similar.

Once you choose your KPIs, inform both staff and team leaders about them during an L&D session especially created with this purpose. This will allow them to learn what is expected of them, and leave no room for misinterpretations.

Continuous improvement is the name of the game

An L&D strategy that improves employee’s performance is based on a correct and detailed understanding of the company goals and of the staff’s ability to learn and self-improve. Many sales might be lost if you base your decisions on assumptions or force people to change in a way they can’t.

Follow the tips above to turn your training sessions into a tool for a higher profit. And be ready to continue changing and adapting your strategy if the set KPIs aren’t being met. Always remember that not planning ahead often means planning to fail.

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