Ignore what she told you

I occasionally get asked to deliver one off training workshops. There’s nothing wrong with a one-off workshop providing it’s not just a sheep dip or tick box exercise, and everything else is in place to support delegates once they get back to the workplace.

I’m sure you, like me, can think of occasions when you’ve attended training, a seminar, or workshop, and returned to work the next day and carried on exactly as you did before. You’ve probably seen this happen with colleagues too.

It’s such a waste!

Not just of precious training budgets, but of people’s time and talents.

One of the reasons one off training can fail is when not everyone in an influential position is bought into the messages.

 “Ignore what she told you.  I know that’s what they told you on the course, but that’s not the way we do things in this department”.

Not only is this confusing, it can be very demoralising, and certainly not good for maintaining employee engagement.

Let’s look at this in the context of customer service training.

Is it that important?

Your team will fail to see its relevance if you’re saying one thing but doing another. For example:

  • You’re stressing the importance of customer service and to keep the customer happy, but all your metrics are centred on the bottom line and profitability.
  • On the one hand you’re saying how to treat customers, but on the other your team get to hear or see a poor attitude to customers from supervisors or managers.
  • When you’re stressing the importance of their commitment to the training, it’s important your team see that commitment coming from the top.
  • Reinforce the company’s commitment to customer service by getting involvement and endorsement from senior management for the training.

Varying standards

It’s easy for different managers to have different expectations and different interpretations of the standards you expect.

  • The more clearly you have these defined (and documented) in behavioural terms the easier it will be for everyone to be consistent and know exactly what’s expected of them.
  • This is particularly important when your team work shifts, and may report to different managers or supervisors at different times.
  • This is just as important for support functions as it is for customer facing departments if you want support functions to support your customer care focus.
  • At the very least everyone in the management team needs to be able to define these  (and be a role model) to set expectations, ensure consistency, and avoid any mixed messages.
  • And, of course, ensure whoever is delivering the training knows your standards and expectations too

Recognise and reward good service

Acknowledge when you spot great examples of good practice. This helps reinforce messages, demonstrates to everyone what good service looks like and helps bring the training to life.

  • Recognise and reward staff who go the extra mile and give exceptional customer service.
  • Share successes and results so everyone recognises the impact.

I’ve used customer service training as an example here, but these principles hold true with any training, particularly any behavioural skills training.

Having the capability to deliver training and coaching in house is one way to alleviate some of these challenges, but that’s not always possible.

So if you only do one thing…

Before you embark on your next piece of training, check that line managers and all those in influential positions are brought into the standards and principles you are teaching and expecting from your team members.

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