Originally published on Inc Magazine’s Process Playbook column by Chris Ronzio
Do you have the right framework in place to scale your training, and take your business to the next level? Here’s how to know.
So your business is growing and everything else seems to be growing along with it. Sales? Check. Your team? Check. List of to-do’s? Double-check.
But…what about your training?
If you’re like many entrepreneurs, training is the one thing that often falls off the radar during phases of growth. In fact, many don’t even have the luxury of premeditated hiring — it’s usually done in short order out of need. Before you know it, you have a team of people each executing on processes in their own way.
But hiring more people without scaling your training often results in redundancies, inefficiencies, and a lack of alignment among your team. I’ve seen this play out time and time again in businesses, and over time identified common gaps that should to be addressed before sustainable growth and scale can be achieved.
Here are five things to have in place to scale your training.
1. A repeatable product or service
Of course you have a product or service, or you wouldn’t be in business. Plain and simple, right? Sort of.
Many businesses have extremely customizable products and services, around which it’s incredibly hard to build processes. It’s like the caricaturist at the park who can only hire really good artists so they can customize every painting or drawing for each customer. It’s not a product that can be easily replicated by someone other than a skilled artist.
On the other hand, if your business prints replica artwork, you can easily hire someone to run the printer, or to package the order. You must have established, repeatable processes before you are ready to scale.
2. A clear way to deliver that product or service
Some businesses want to be all things to all people, which almost always backfires. I’ve gone through this myself over my 19-year career, so I can relate. But when it comes to the delivery of your products or services, the best bet is to simplify, not pacify.
If you reinvent the wheel every time the product is delivered or fulfilled upon, it will not only create inefficiencies, but make it near impossible to build a system around.
3. A clear role for each person who delivers that product or service
If there are blurred lines in your company, and too much crossover between who does what, new business will almost always lead to more confusion. You have to have clear handoffs between each role.
At the barbershop I go to, everyone chips in answering phones, greeting customers, sweeping, cutting hair and collecting payment. But on the busiest days, no one can answer the phone. Hair collects everywhere on the floor. Customers are frustrated waiting for their barber to return from the cash register. To really scale, they would need a dedicated receptionist. Are you ready to hire your receptionist, or does everyone still have a hand in everything?
4. A timeline for how long it will take to get someone up to speed
If you don’t know how long it will take to train a new hire, you won’t be able to gauge when you need to hire — and this can leave you in the lurch if you grow and don’t have the resources to fulfill on the new business. When you’re starting to train people, you need to think backward and identify when you’re going to run into a capacity issue.
For instance, if you know how many customer support tickets your current team can handle, but you don’t know how long it will take to get a new hire up and running in that role, you won’t know when to hire to accommodate growth, even if you can predict when you will be at 100 percent capacity on support tickets.
5. Concisely documented material
If your training materials are disorganized and hard to consume, your people might interpret them in a different way than you intended, or worse yet, disregard them altogether. Have just enough specificity to communicate how to do something, without overloading your team with extraneous details.
My company has everything so precisely documented that I could lose half my staff tomorrow, and have a new team up to speed in a matter of days. Of course, I don’t want that to happen, but the takeaway is that documenting the roles within your business and the processes attached to those roles makes onboarding and training something that is repeatable and…drum roll…scalable. It also can save you a lot of money and time, which is something any C-level executive I’ve ever met would get behind.
So, keep your sights set on scaling. But don’t forget that a key building block of scaling your company successfully is preparing your training to scale, too. Here’s to moving onward, and way upward.