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Is Training Really That Important?

In the past, the word “training” would evoke images of a classroom full of bored-to-death people being lectured to by a monotone, uninspired instructor going through the motions (kind of like Ben Stein’s character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).

Luckily, we’ve come a long way, and most training sessions aren’t like that any more. In today’s world, thanks to the proliferation of video, online learning tools, and research into learning theory, effective and dynamic training on just about any topic is a couple of clicks away.

So, it’s out there and available, but is it really that important to your organization?

According to Ben Horowitz’s outstanding book about the dynamics of starting a business, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, training is arguably one of the most important activities you can do to ensure success in your organization.

Indeed, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, stated, “Job training empowers people to realize their dreams and improve their lives.”

Wow, well said.

So, I think we can all agree that training is important. But, why should it be important to your business or department? Here are some reasons:

It helps ensure consistency

If you’ve ever visited a Starbucks, you know the value of consistency. As much as some of us claim we do, human beings don’t like surprises. We want to know that we can expect the same great service every time we interact with a company. And that means your customers want to know they can expect the same great service every they interact with your company or department.

Then why is it so rare that this actually happens? As we are all painfully aware, the vast majority of service organizations are terribly inconsistent. That’s what makes the Starbucks’ of the world stand out so powerfully.

So, how do you provide a more consistent offering to your clients?

Sure, having a strong culture plays a role. But it really comes down to a serious commitment to training. And not just the initial training your employees go through. In fact, they’ll forget up to 90% of what they learned. It’s the ongoing training that really makes a difference.

Is it any wonder that Starbucks is one of the most successful companies in the world? I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Their focus on training and providing a consistent customer experience speaks for itself.

It increases motivation

According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, motivation is not increased by paying employees more money or by providing bonuses. As a matter of fact, those actions can actually decrease motivation and productivity. If you haven’t watched the Drive video that paints a picture (literally) of why this is so, it’s highly worth the 10-minute investment.

Based on Pink’s research, he’s found that human motivation is impacted most by autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Did you catch that middle one? Yep, mastery. It turns out that people really like to be good at what they do. And what’s one great way to ensure your employees are good at their jobs? You guessed it — training.

It’s a differentiator

Why does Keller Williams Realty have more agents than any other real estate agency in the United States? Why are they the only real estate company in the Top 150 Best Places to Work, coming in at an impressive #9?

The answer, of course: They have an intense focus on training. As a matter of fact, they were ranked the second-best company in Training Magazine’s 125 Top Training Companies for 2014.

Keller Williams has made training a differentiator for their business. It’s a great place for new agents to start, and for veteran agents to ensure their skills stay sharp.

So, is training really that important? I think we all know the answer to that question. So let’s get beyond answering that one and move on to a better question: What are you doing right now to make training a priority in your organization?