Howard Lewinter is a business strategist and advisor to CEOs, presidents and business owners throughout the United States. For more than 25 years, Lewinter has advised businesses from start-ups to privately held corporations coast to coast. Businesspeople use Lewinter’s advice to solve problems—from daily decisions to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. He helps business owners define their personal management style, solve business problems and issues, improve results and profits and experience less stress while achieving more success. Visit talkbusinesswithhoward.com.
There is always much discussion surrounding education, beginning with preschool and spanning all the way through the post-college years. And the question is always the same: How do we improve the quality of education to better prepare everyone to find their talents and equip them with the knowledge to excel.? As a CEO, president or business owner, candidates’ education levels are often a major consideration during the hiring process. But education doesn’t stop with high school or college graduation; it requires an ongoing pursuit of excellence and productivity at work.
Every employee you hire has a different educational experience and varied expectations regarding work, so their motivations will differ as well. During the hiring process, consider how you would educate and motivate each potential employee. Never assume an employee already knows all they need to know to do their job well. Employees require education and training on company culture and expectations, including:
- Origins of the company
- Mission statement and reasons for being in business
- Policies and procedures
- Sales processes
- Customer service
- Marketing programs
- Products and services
- Any updates or changes in products, services, policies and processes
Put Yourself in their Shoes
When it comes to your workforce, one size does not fit all. That’s why investing in the education of your employees pays off with long-term growth, success and profit. But it will require time, effort and thought on your part. Complete an overview of your employees, both individually and by department. Determine what role, frequency and interaction you will have, whether directly or indirectly. Which employees can coach or mentor others to maximize success?
Remember: It’s not just new employees who need the attention; it’s also those who have been with the company for a while, perhaps even years. Everyone needs continued training and education to be productive, grow in their roles and enjoy their work. Training and education will help with the retention of employees, reducing costs and lowering turnover rates—all beneficial to the reputation of the company and its profits.
When deciding how best to educate your staff, ask yourself what skills they have and lack; what they need to understand better; how you will involve everyone individually and as a team to improve their work; and how you can achieve a better, more profitable company.
When you think about what every employee needs to be productive and successful, consider the individual, as well as the job title and the experience they have. People don’t become dissatisfied with their jobs primarily because of money. Though compensation definitely can play a role, it isn’t always the primary factor. Consider the following employee desires:
- To feel part of something
- To contribute in a meaningful way and see the results of their work
- To enjoy what they do and feel confident that they are doing a good job
- To feel valued by their employer
When employees (and, therefore, the company) are doing well and meeting or exceeding profit goals, you will be able to increase paychecks—a favorable outcome for everyone.
Be an Employee Educator
Successful business leaders are daily educators, leading by example from the moment they drive into the office parking lot or project meeting location. As such, always encourage employees to further their business education, which puts your company at the forefront of the industry, solidifies the company’s reputation and demonstrates your committed investment to the professional development of your employees. Some other methods to further education in the workplace include:
- Post important information on centrally located bulletin boards
- Send out a company newsletter
- Engage in employee recognition
- Offer online training courses
- Purchase office subscriptions to trade publications
- Attend motivational speeches
- Encourage and attendance at outside seminars
- Provide employees with relevant, best-selling or newly published materials
- Fund continuing education scholarships
- Take time during business hours to talk with employees about what they are working on and how they feel their progress is going
As a business leader, the key is to be consistent, creative and willing to tailor your teaching methods to the needs of your employees. For example, a salesperson may not need to understand or know the same things as a construction worker. The administrative personnel in the front office may need information on how to improve communication with the sales team or engineering department so that there is a better flow with reports.
Be a Business Student
Though there are opportunities for entrepreneurial studies at a growing list of colleges, they alone cannot fully prepare you for your role as a CEO, president or business owner. Being a student of business continues throughout your life and career. If you are not continually learning to further benefit the company, then how can you expect those who work with you to be open to learning? Operate under the belief that learning never stops, in ways such as:
- Holding seminars
- Surrounding yourself with experts
- Joining networking associations
- Reading business and industry literature
- Working with a mentor or consultant
- Observing other companies and leaders you admire
- Learning from mistakes by enacting plans/processes to avoid repetition
- Working side-by-side with employees in each department
It’s important that, in addition to educating yourself and your employees, you are also always educating your current and potential clients. Education is part of the ongoing sales, marketing and customer service cycle as well.
Know That it’s Worth It
Making a commitment to be an educator in addition to the other hats you wear may seem overwhelming, and you might think it takes up too much time. But leaders who make the commitment will see the decision pay off in long-term success.
Every company is different, and your needs may not mirror your competitors’. It all starts with educating yourself, which enables you and your staff to understand how to be successful. It’s important to gain the necessary information to help not only your employees and clients, but also the company to be more profitable.