Johnny Cash. The man in black. In 1976 Johnny gave us that toe tapping work of genius (well some people think it is) "One Piece at a Time". It is a song about an assembly line worker in a car plant who takes, well, one piece at a time home in his "big lunch box", to build himself a car. Problem was, that by the time he had all the parts he needed, they did not fit together and he ended up with "three head lights" and "only one tailfin" and a heap of other compromises. It makes for an enjoyable and witty song, but if we designed a training strategy the same way, "One Piece at a Time" we can expect far bigger problems than Mr. Cash experienced with the car. So why do so many in our business design training in exactly that way and what can we do about it?
First, let's look at the main problem; "departmentalization". Nearly all of us are guilty of this. We have a sales department, service, parts, sometimes used car, F & I, marketing and we treat each separately. When we look for training, we often look for specialist training relevant to that department. Now, of course, in technical terms that is the right way to go, but in designing training for your client facing team, whatever department they are in we suggest you look at things differently and here's why.
While you (and by the way many manufacturers) see your business as a collection of departments, your client sees you business as a single entity. The client just wants to recognize a world-class service that reflects the quality of the brand they own or wish to own, delivered consistently in their every contact with your business regardless of department. To deliver this level of service you need to ensure that all of your client facing teams understand the way that your business wants its clients to be handled and the values and level of care your business deliveries.
The impact this has on the way you design your training strategy is immense. You have to ensure that regardless of the departmental training agenda of your teams, you need to provide a consistent and deliverable set of skills, values and behaviors to the client. But how do you do this when you have to use a variety of training providers or are prescribed training by the manufacturer?
There are 2 steps you need to take to keep control of your training.
Step 1 is:
Develop a "Unifying Vision"
Step 2 is:
Develop your "Core Service Values".
A "Unifying Vision" is what you aim to achieve with your training strategy in line with the goals you have set your business. At the heart of this relationship between your people and departments and the way they deliver service to your clients. Ask yourself:
"What are the key elements required for success in each department for my business to meet its overall financial and performance goals"?
Once you have identified these elements, look for the common elements and group them regardless of department. Now when developing your training strategy for the shared competency elements you will be able to deliver the learning required to achieve the consistency and quality your client wants to receive. You will also be able to identify the true amount of "Specialist" training required.
Developing "Core Service Values" determines the level of service and care you will accept as a minimum standard for delivery to your clients. This is where you must look objectively through the eyes of your client at your business. It requires real "client centered thinking". Your aim in developing these "Core Service Values" is to be able to develop a series of statements that prescribes a minimum level of care that will be delivered. :
"All clients contacting our business by telephone will be answered within 3 rings"
You choose the values and set the standards to reflect the qualities you want the client to identify in your business.
Once you have developed your Unifying Vision and Core Service Value statements you can effectively design your training strategy. You have to make sure that whatever training you design, purchase or are prescribed by the manufacturer, that the training delivered fits your Unifying Vision and Core Service Values. So how can you take that vital control when you need to use outside suppliers. Here are some quick tips.
The Training You Buy:
1.Don't Accept an "Off The Shelf" package!
Get the training provider to prove they will respect and re-enforce your Unifying Vision and Core Service Values before buying.
2. Reduce the Number Of Training Providers You Use!
Many training providers offer a broad range of services so will be consistent in delivery quality and message ensuring your Unifying Vision and Core Service Values are consistently supported. Also, remember; expose your team to the learning by "need" and not "department".
Manufacturer Prescribed Training:
1.Take Advantage Of The Global Brand and Make It Fit
The key to this is the effective de-brief of your teams returning from training events. Also always ask your team this vital question: "How can we best apply this information in our business relating to our Unifying Vision and Core Service Values"
Above all, no matter what the training, MAKE SURE IT FITS!
The advice we have offered in this article is to train your people by need and not department. Look at you business through the eyes of you client and make sure that your Unifying Vision and Core Service Values are identifiable at all points of contact in you business. Make sure your training providers meet your criteria and support your vision and learn the lesson that while Johnny Cash gave us a great witty song with "One Piece at a Time" he showed us how it does not work as a training strategy.