How Do I Bring the C-Suite Into the Training Process?

Are your company leaders invested in your company training? How much do they even know about it?

Unfortunately, the answer to both those questions is often, “Very little.” Let me share two stories from different companies . . .

  • A recently hired CFO for a franchising company asked his team, “How much are we spending on training?” And when he heard that the percentage of spend on training seemed about right, he never asked about training again.
  • The president of a large franchising company was concerned that his company had gotten some negative online reviews. He asked his COO to investigate whether new or better training could help. But the COO quit before doing anything about training, the next COO took six months to do anything about it . . . and nothing got done for nearly a year.

The biggest problem is that in many franchising organizations, management doesn’t fully understand the day-to-day experience of company employees. This problem can arise in corporate headquarters, in individual franchises, and in groups of franchise locations that are owned by one person or group.

Yet there are ways to get the C-Suite integrated into training, and into what is really happening in the lives of employees.

Company leaders should take the training too

Many corporate leaders say, “I can’t take the training. I am too busy!” But there is really no substitute for doing so.

If company leaders do not know what training is covering, how can they understand, reinforce, measure or support the skills and behaviors that are being taught? How can they understand what people are doing on their jobs? Are employees inputting data, using barcodes to take inventory, using sophisticated POS systems? When company leaders take the training, they get a fuller picture.

And when company leaders take training, they are better able to pinpoint critical skills that training is not covering. The products customers order are not getting delivered for three days, for example, and the company is losing business. Is that issue even being addressed in training? Unless company leaders roll up their sleeves and take training, they might never know.

Another reason company leaders should take the training is that it offers them a chance to lead by example. The CEO, CFO or COO appears in training sessions alongside workers? He or she can talk in an informed way about the specific lessons that were taught in training? That leads employees at all levels to think, “Training must be important . . . our top executives are taking it too.”

New franchise owners should take all training too

Make it a requirement for people who have bought your franchises. They should take all the training that you have developed for their employees. Set up a Learning Management System to track their participation.

Executives should work alongside workers as they do their jobs

It is a shame that in many companies, executives have very little idea what their workers do every day. An executive who has purchased training for his company’s call center staff has never visited a call center to listen in on calls, for example. Or a CEO who has hired a company to provide sales training has never hit the road with salespeople to see what really happens on a typical sales call.

If that pattern has taken hold, how can company leaders help to improve training? How can they identify critical skills that are not being taught? How can they discover whether employees are not using skills they were taught in training?

In Summary . . .

Unless company leaders take the same training that workers do and leave their offices to work alongside them, they will never understand how to maximize the return they are getting on their training.

The gap between the C-Suite and your training can be eliminated, but the next steps are up to you.

Evan Hackel is a 35-year franchising veteran as both a franchisor and franchisee. He is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Principal and Founder of Ingage Consulting in Woburn, Massachusetts. Evan is the host of Training Unleashed and author of Ingaging Leadership. Evan speaks on Seeking Excellence, Better Together, Ingaging Leadership and Attitude is Everything. To hire Evan as a speaker, visit Follow @ehackel.

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