Most people understand the importance of training or Learning and Development, but few actually make the commitment to take it past the initial new hire training phase. The rationale is that employees will learn and adapt while in their role. While learning on the job does contribute to a point, it only takes people so far. Investment in the team through ongoing development is crucial and has a profound impact on companies in many areas.
Training improves employee retention, boosts morale, and promotes a strong company culture. If you think about it, it makes sense. People are more likely to want to stick around and work harder for a company that invests in their professional development and growth. Ongoing training also increases ROI per employee because employees are able to increase output and produce more effectively and efficiently when trained properly. This investment needs to be ongoing, as in beyond new hire training, and when done properly, it should bring multiple positive returns to your business. We see new hire training as one of three key types of training that make up a well rounded Learning and Development program for people who work in transportation, logistics, and supply chain.
Let's take a look at these three types of training.
New Hire Training
This is the type of training that most people are familiar with. New hire training sets the tone for new employees and serves as a first impression for the relationship between the company and the employee. It should provide an onboarding experience that gives the employee an understanding of the company's mission, values, vision, culture, and how the employee will now play an important role in all of this. Connecting the individual's initiatives to the company vision contributes to a healthy company culture. Most importantly, new hire training sets expectations for both the new hire in their role and as part of a team. One common failure in new hire training programs is misaligned expectations from either the company or the new hire’s perspective. New hire training is the time to nail down expectations for performance, attendance, communication, working relationships with management and peers, and basic protocols. Coming out of new hire training, every employee should know what the company expects from them and what to expect from the company.
Everyone is eager to have new employees begin producing in the roles they were hired for, but it can be short lived and costly if employees are not properly trained on how to execute tasks and deliver in their role. To have an effective and successful new hire training program, I recommend covering the following areas:
- Company history, values, and mission: These topics connect your new employees to your company and make everyone feel like they are part of the team.
- Industry overview: This introduces how your company fits into the overarching space.
- Products, services, customers, and competitors: Knowledge about these topics helps put everything into perspective for new members of the team. Everyone wants to play for a winning team, so show them how your team is going to win and continue winning.
- Organizational structure and how each department works together with other departments: It is helpful to show employees how their role fits into the bigger puzzle and contributes to success and company initiatives.
- Systems training for any programs, tools, or technology the employee interacts with: Don't assume everyone knows proper phone or email etiquette or how to use TMS. Even if employees have previous experience with certain systems or tools, your business may have a standard that is different from an employee's past experience.
- Best practices and demonstrations on how to be successful: Typically, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and rules of engagement (how to interact with SOPs with other roles) lay the groundwork for best practices. Put your newbies to the test. Put them in training situations where they have to think and use the SOPs and rules of engagement to demonstrate what success looks like. This can be executed through shadowing sessions and role playing to bring your best practices to life.
These topics should be covered through a variety of training methods and formats and within a reasonable timeframe. It is important to note that all of this takes time to properly deliver. Hang in there; it’s worth it.
Read more about new hire training in this blog, by my consulting colleague, Elie Silow-Carroll.
Once your new employees are through new hire training and out in the wild, the job is done, right? If you want to do it right, then it’s actually just the beginning.
Across all different roles, there are various skills that need to be crafted. Hoping or expecting that employees will naturally improve over time and through experience is not enough. A few of your new people might be lucky and just get it, but more commonly, employees hit a plateau. To minimize, and hopefully avoid this, you need to provide ongoing skills training. Some examples of ongoing training for your employees are:
- Tech training that is implemented as new software is introduced to your company, or as updates or changes are made to your existing tools or systems.
- Negotiation strategy training for your reps working with shippers and carriers. If rates are going to change, your reps should have the best skills to work out these changes with the customers.
- Excel/spreadsheet training
We recommend crowdsourcing ideas from your employees on the types on ongoing training they think would be useful for their roles and goals. You will be delighted by how much your team is looking to learn and grow. Check out this Ongoing Training Resource Guide by our Marketing Lead, Teresa Ronquillo.
In addition to ongoing training, your company should be providing developmental training. As your employees grow, they will be taking on new responsibilities and potentially even new roles. Proper training ensures these changes happen smoothly. Are you ready to promote your star sales rep to sales manager? That’s great! Has this person ever managed people before? If not, they would benefit from management training. Their team will benefit from it as well. We even prescribe allowing all levels to participate in management training, both to add to their own skills and also to give insight to what management roles are like.
Types of developmental training that we see as beneficial to transportation, logistics, and supply chain fields are:
- First time management training for those new to managing people.
- Managing vs. Coaching - Yes, there’s a difference!
- Identifying motivation drivers for the team. Different people are motivated by different things.
- Performance management - How to have difficult conversations regarding promotion, implementing a performance improvement plan (PIP), setting goals, and other tricky topics.
- Conflict resolution
- Setting and managing expectations
Coming soon: A blog post by our Director of People, Maggie Norman, with a deeper dive on developmental training.
Virtual Training and Training While WFH
One of the most important things to note about all of these types of training, especially recently, with the significant changes we’ve seen in the way we work, is that the stages of training can still be executed thoughtfully and effectively in virtual formats.
You can still hold classroom style trainings, live or pre-recorded via video conference. Employees can still shadow colleagues via this method as well. Then, there is a wealth of information and resources that you can make accessible for additional training formats. For example, at CarrierDirect, we have a shared folder for all our virtual training materials. Recordings of leadership walking through past projects, industry 101 videos, slides of information, info sheets, etc. We also have an internal site that houses information about the company: our mission, our values, our ground rules. This internal site provides ongoing and developmental training resources as well. Topics such as conflict resolution, growth mindset, feedback, difficult conversations, and more are available to everyone on our team, no matter where we are in our learning journey.
We agree that there are definitely benefits of in-person training, but with changing norms for in-office and WFH positions, we believe that putting intention into your virtual resources will serve you well in your training plans. There are several predictions of what work will look like moving forward. A hybrid-approach to training will allow an even better balance of all the types of training that will benefit employees, especially considering different people’s learning preferences.
All in all, investing in training is investing in your people. Investing in your people is key to the short-term and long-term success of your business. When done thoughtfully, you'll see that the ROI for a quality training program has value in multiple ways.