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4 Ways to Train Employees More Effectively

In October, NHPA staff attended DevLearn, a conference covering some of the trends and new technologies for delivering online training to employees. NHPA has made training easy for retailers by offering a wide library of online educational resources. At the conference, staff picked up best practices for training employees online and some ways managers can be more effective at helping their employees learn.

Be patient with employees under stress. Whether it was the loss of a job, death of a friend or family member, general uncertainty about the future or some other anxiety brought on by the pandemic, many people have been experiencing a higher-than-usual level of stress over the past couple of years. At the conference, keynote speaker John Medina, an author and developmental molecular biologist at the Washington School of Medicine, described how stress effects the way people are able to learn and retain information. Stress, grief in particular, he says, impedes a person’s problem-solving skills and can affect their ability to learn new information. There are steps people under stress can take to overcome its effects and thus improve their ability to focus and learn. One significant method, says Medina, is to look for ways to help someone else instead of focusing on yourself and taking time to listen to others.

Supervisors or training managers should be patient with employees who may be feeling the stress of the pandemic and may be a little slower than usual at learning new skills. Retailers in the habit of giving back to the community through special events or donating time to a nonprofit can encourage employees to help, as taking the focus off themselves will strengthen their mental health.

Encourage employees to reach their goals. At the conference, keynote speaker Dr. Jennifer Arnold described her journey dealing with a rare type of dwarfism that has required more than 30 orthopedic surgeries. Despite her challenges, she became a medical doctor, television actress and mother. Dr. Arnold said that anyone who wants to reach a goal needs to think big, which means never stop trying, hoping and believing that their goal is possible.

Managers should encourage employees to pursue their goals in spite of obstacles that might stand in their way. Make sure employees understand the many opportunities a job in retail offers. If they express interest in furthering their career at your business, give them the training and encouragement they need to get there.

Engaged employees will stay longer. One of the learning best practices that dominated the conversations at conference seminars was the importance of engaging employees. Studies (such as the State of the American Workplace by Gallup) have shown that engaged employees tend to outperform and stay at a business longer than those who are not engaged with their job. One area where employees need to be engaged is in training. Allow employees a space for training where they can focus on what they are learning without distractions. Also help them find the areas that interest them most. Tap in to their talents and find the parts of their job that excite them the most.

Tailor training to meet each employee’s skill level. One of the trends in online learning revolves around the necessity to adapt education curriculum to the needs of each individual learner. Effective training is efficient, relevant and agile to adapt where needed. Employees who take training that is not relevant to them or that covers material they already know may lose interest or feel they are wasting their time. Make the most of the time you spend training by making sure you address the weak spots in each employee’s knowledge. The issues you want to address could include product knowledge, selling skills, add-on selling or compliance.

If you want to learn more about NHPA’s online training, click here to learn more about becoming a Premier Member so you can access the full catalog of more than 40 courses.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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