Walking the Training Talk

I just finished reading my bi-monthly issue of Training Magazine. It highlighted the top 125 company training programs in the country. Some insights I gathered:

  1. 1. Most employees want at least two hours of training per month. If the employee desire is roughly 24 hours of training per year and they earn $50,000 then you have to deliver that training, including their cost of attendance at roughly $50 per hour, or $1200 year or 2.4% of payroll…and as you will see, that’s on the lower end of the budget for great companies.
  2. Unfortunately, less than 80% of employees get two hours of training per month. Is it the time? The money? A philosophy that training is not needed to perform at peak levels? If you are super concerned about time or money then make sure the training produces results.
  3. Employees want training to learn new skills, grow in their career, and be more productive. Don’t you want that too? Everyone wins when you train well. I just read an interesting survey on Lifetime Learning done by Pew.The info from that could be yet an additional article.
  4. Employees continue to acknowledge feedback as the greatest engagement factor. Meaning training alone, without feedback, is wasted time and money.
  5. While employees have shorter and shorter attention spans and prefer shorter training sessions, studies show that training is more effective when longer in duration. I say make the training fit the need. Sometimes micro-learning is perfect. Others times a deep dive is required.
  6. The average training spend has increased by at least 10% per year over the last five years. Have you kept pace? As George Gilder reminds us, we are in a knowledge economy, no matter what job we do.
  7. Most award winning companies say their training budget as a percentage of payroll is between 2% and 4%. There are outlier companies such as Quicken Loans which devote 8.3% of its payroll budget to training. What percentage of payroll do you devote to training?
  8. The vast majority have tuition reimbursement plans.
  9. Great training is a mix. Some online, some just-in-time, mentoring, Kaizen groups, presenters, trainers, TED talks, etc. Training is only limited by a company’s creativity.

There’s the general landscape. No doubt half of all companies train better than the other half, 10% do a great job of it and 1% do a world class job. Where do you stand?

If you walk the training talk then brand that fact on your about page, your hiring page, during your interview process and then execute it on or during orientation and throughout their career. This will improve your ability to hire and retain productive employees.

Ten Things that All Employees Want

We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to motivate or engage employees when the solutions have been around forever. The gap is application, not knowledge. This is not rocket science as it’s probably similar to what you want for your career:

  1. A fair day’s pay.
  2. A steady job.
  3. At a good company.
  4. With good co-workers.
  5. A boss that cares about them.
  6. A decent work environment.
  7. An opportunity to move ahead.
  8. Feeling like their work makes a difference.
  9. Providing financial security (benefits, 401K, etc.) for me and my family.
  10. A decent break from work!


  1. Do you know if you pay according to the market rate? The market defines a fair days pay. Once you pay that, money as a motivator falls sharply in the rankings.
  2. Is this a temporary need? Super high turnover? How do you make jobs like fast food, retail, call centers a “steady job”? Remember the formula and feel free to share it with your employees: Great work + great attitude + client need + steady cash flow = job security.
  3. Would employees define you as a good company? What do your surveys tell you? Or your Glassdoor ratings? What would it take to go from good to great?
  4. Are employees encouraged to play team? Do be supportive of each other? Do they seem to like hanging out with each other? Do they realize the place to compete is with the competition and not with each other?
  5. Are you a boss that shows you care? What is an example of an action you took recently to show somebody you care about them? And, no, writing the paycheck doesn’t count.
  6. What about the work environment? Is it visually appealing? Well ventilated and good lighting? See my Checklist for Great Office Design.
  7. Do employees know what they need to do to move up in their career? Do they have a plan for doing so? Here’s a good tool to start with http://www.careeronestop.org/competencymodel/careerpathway/cpwreviewsamplepaths.aspx
  8. Have you helped them discover how their works “makes a difference”? Once defined, then brand and reinforce it.
  9. You are not responsible for an employee’s finances…but it is wise to help employees better manage their finances. Many of my clients have brought in financial education whether from Dave Ramsey’s organization or otherwise. Financial peace supports productive behaviors.
  10. Last, make sure people take a break! Burnout only leads to resentment, lowered performance and family strife.

Like I said, not rocket science…but it is an enormous competitive advantage. Remember half of all companies do this better than the other half and the great ones do it better than 90% of their competition! What kind of company do you want to be?

Do You Have Your Hiring Act Together?

“The number one secret to having a great company is to make sure your managers hire great employees.” – Jim Collins

How good are you at hiring? Better than the competition? Most important how good do you want to be? Top 25%?  Top10%?

Everyone tells me about how hard it is to find talent today. The mistake with that thought is the part about “finding” employees as opposed to “attracting” them.

When we find our self in desperate hiring situations we can make big mistakes. We will hire somebody we like just so we can get it over with…and go back to our more important jobs. We can forget hiring is the most important job a manager will ever do. (See Collins above.)

Just one bad hire can set a company backwards. When I ask the CEO’s I speak to “how much did our last bad hire cost you?” They start at $50,000.  They have often said more than a million dollars!

That’s just one bad hire.

Here’s a short checklist of things you should be considering if you want to hire great employees.

    1. Get super clear about who you want to hire. Is that desire in writing and driven to a checklist? Then test and assess towards those criteria. Bottom line is if you want an experienced 3rd baseman, with a .300 plus batting average, who is good in the locker room too…you must hire for that!
    2. Do what you can on your social media sites, web page, etc. to brand a great employment experience story. Like they do at Zappos or Southwest Airlines or In-N-Out Hamburger.
    3. Take a checklist approach to hiring. Checklist are one of the best ways to avoid system variances. And bad hires. You can see my hiring checklist template here.
    4. Create a great hiring experience. From the moment an applicant looks at your website until the moment they are hired.
    5. Make sure your managers know how to treat and interview job applicants. Do they know how to prepare for interviews? Do they have the skills required to do them? Do they know what compliance questions to avoid? Do they know how to rank and rate job applicants?
    6. Last, have a good follow up process with job candidates so they know where they stand. Nothing is more frustrating than putting in a resume and not hearing back within a few days. How’s about they hear back within 24 hours! Don’t lose a great candidate due to indifference.

None of this is rocket science… yet half the companies hire better than the other half. Then there’s those rare companies who hire in the top 10%… and build great companies in the process.