the one skill that most entrepreneurs, managers and parents overlook

Being a leader isn’t easy…

Whether we’re talking about a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the head of a prestigious university, the manager of a department or simply a parent, the greatest task of a leader is getting a group of people with a variety of personalities, interests, habits, strengths, ages and backgrounds to work together as a cohesive unit to perform certain tasks.

Many leaders struggle to maintain peace and harmony within the group and, as a result, performance falters.

To compensate for this, some leaders choose not to delegate tasks to their subordinates and instead take it on themselves. Big mistake, because there’s only so much one person can do. I have seen so many managers work late into the night simply because they didn’t trust their team. The problem with this is the workload will only increase over time the more successful you are.

What I commonly hear from leaders is that they want to be able to trust their subordinates, but they can’t.

If that’s the situation you find yourself in, here are two solutions:

  1. Train them
  2. Fire them

Too many leaders are so busy putting out fires, attending meetings and dealing with customers that they often ignore the importance of training (and retraining).

Most companies do give employees a decent amount of training when they join the company, but very little afterward. Much of what we learn comes from on-the-job training and simply asking for help in dealing with issues that arise.

The smaller the company, the less training is usually given simply because they “can’t afford” it. The inevitable result from this is employees feel unprepared for handling the job and eventually quit, thereby meaning another employee must be hired and trained from scratch at a big cost to the company not just in manpower invested into them, but also with the loss of any customers that leave due to a change in personnel.

Training may be costly, but done properly will free up a leader’s time. Bear in mind, training is not a one-off thing, it’s something that needs to be done and redone because we all forget.

I once heard statistics that the day after a training people only remember 50% of what was taught, within three days it was down to 30% and within a week people could barely remember anything. As a result, most people revert back to their old ways in a very short period of time.

The second option, firing them, might not be what some people want to hear, but if employees aren’t able to handle their tasks, they either need to shape up or ship out (as the saying goes).

A leader must be willing to get rid of employees that aren’t pulling their own weight, pulling down others or simply causing problems within the group.

How can leaders avoid choosing “a bad apple?” During the interview process people hide their weaknesses and over-exaggerate their abilities which makes it hard to pick a winner every time, but I have found that during the training process you quickly get insight into their true character and whether they will be a good match for the business which is another reason taking the time to train people is so valuable.

Here are some qualities to look for in employees during training:

  • Takes notes
  • Asks clarification
  • Arrives early
  • Does homework (which should be assigned)
  • Upbeat
  • Stays late to ask questions

These are simple ways to determine just how excited they are about working at their company and just how much desire they have to improve. Jim Rohn said it best when he said, “Don’t send your ducks to eagle school.”

You find people that are right for your business, then invest the time and the money in them to help them become the best they can be.

The same idea applies to parents as much as it does to successful business owners because the more time parents invest in helping their kids early on, the less they need to do as they get older.

For both children and employees, the key is laying the right foundation.

Brian Tracy, the world-renown speaker, talks about the best thing we can do for our children is to shower them with love. If we do that for the first five years of their life, the greater the chance of their success in life.

The more we invest upfront, the greater the reward. Employees change, that is inevitable. But every leader should do whatever they can in their power to keep their “eagles” flying high.

One other point regarding training, don’t think that all people need is training for their specific job. Training to become a better speaker, a better presenter, a better negotiator, a better salesperson, or simply how to be better-organized will all pay off in the long run.

Share articles (via email), books, audio lectures, videos that are of value to them both professionally and personally regularly.

Showing people you care is key. This is true for both employees and kids.

Companies such as Google, Salesforce, Apple and Applied Materials invest heavily in training their personnel because they get it. Training pays off long-term.

Whether you’re a leader of a Fortune 500 company, a manager or a parent, never overlook the importance of training.

Adrian Shepherd

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