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Peer Training & Partner Training

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There are a number of ways we can try to train our people. Some are more effective than others, and some are more appropriate for one group than for another group. For example, some companies do a great job with on-line training courses. Others don’t. If your company offers on-line training courses and all of your people in all of your teams aren’t up to date with the courses that are appropriate to them, shame on you! However, not all companies offer on-line training courses, and / or, not all necessary knowledge or skills may be available on-line to everyone that needs them. Now what?

There are a number of things we can do to make sure training happens. First, we have to determine which group our people fall into. We have managers, “great associates who want to be managers” and “great associates who don’t want to be managers”. As discussed in a previous article, we need great people in all three groups. As previously discussed, don’t forget that the folks who fall in the group of “great associates who don’t want to be managers” are just as important to us, and we need them just as much as the folks who fall into the other groups. There are great people out there who sincerely want to be good at what they’re expected to do, but don’t want the hassle of management. There are also great people who would like to be store managers, but don’t want the travel and overnights of multi-unit field management. We need them all. We need to make sure each of these great people get the training they deserve!

For all of these groups, let’s remember that “soapbox” training isn’t always the best way to train them. Just telling them what to do and hoping for the best doesn’t usually work very well. They need to know the process of how to do it, why the specific process is important, and the results expected. This is actually important to all three groups, but is often overlooked for the “great associates who don’t want to be managers” group. While we can do the training or delegate it to one of our management team, another great way to make it happen is Peer Training. This provides TWO great benefits. First, the person being trained gets to see it being done by someone else who does it well, and, if we’re making this work properly, does the work along with them. Secondly, what better way to make sure of the depth of understanding of the training person, than to have them train someone to do it right? Of course, they must realize that they’re making sure the person being trained is learning the actual process, why that specific process is important, and what results that process will provide. As an additional benefit, the person doing the training is going to know that we have a high opinion of them and their work because we’ve asked them to help the one being trained get up to speed. A little ego boost!

Don’t forget that cross-training can be done in this fashion, and cross-training should be done with our best people in each department of our store. Yes, it’s good for our people, but let’s not forget that WE need a number of people who can work every department in our store. Never let a sick day or vacation or accident mean that you don’t have someone qualified to work any of our departments! That not only hurts the store today, but can cost us future sales as well. Customers expect someone helpful to be available in every department!

The next form of training is for our managers, but under the right circumstances, can be used with some of the “great associates who want to be managers”. It’s called Partner Training. Partner Training can be done specifically to help one manager get up to speed on something another of your managers is great at. But, if done properly, it can be a fantastic way to get TWO managers trained on something different that they each need. For example, Mike is really great with scheduling, but Cathy has difficulty with this sometimes. However, Cathy is really great at inventory management, and Mike could use a little help with it. Why not have these two managers spend some time at each other’s stores? I know time is sometimes limited, but if Cathy can spend one day with Mike at his store, and Mike can spend one day with Cathy at Cathy’s store, they each get to see the other in action (for a number of different things including the area they need help with). Because they’re see it and doing it with someone who’s very good at it, they really have the right opportunity to learn something. Some bonding also goes on amongst your teams, and quite often, they’ll call each other, maybe with questions, maybe just to get a pick-me-up from the other person when they need it. Quite often, when one learns something important, they’ll pass it on to the other. Now some training is happening that we didn’t even have to get involved with. How cool is that?

There have been numerous books written on training. However, if we simply use Peer Training and Partner Training whenever we can, the amount of training and learning we’ll see going on will be remarkable. Great people, great training, great performance!

Retail How-To Consultant: Edward Fox

TAGS: retail, management, work in retail, career, retailers,
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