Your company’s core values are called that for a reason – they form the very centre of your company’s day to day operations, and inform everything about the way the organisation does business – from your processes and principles, to your short and long term company goals, staff recruitment policies, sales process, and commitment to your all-important clients and customers.
It makes sense then that any learning and development programs you engage your employees in should also be heavily influenced by your company values. Below, we look at some of the ways you can ensure that your staff training programs are reinforcing and furthering your company values, rather than potentially undermining them.
Example core values of the world’s top tech firms. Image source.
The problem with forgetting about the sixth “W”
Normally when a company approaches an external training partner, they’ll first sit down and decide on the Five “W”s of putting together an effective training program for their staff:
- the Who: Who needs the training – will it be for senior staff members, new starters, the business development team, or just one-to-one training for an individual?
- the Why: Why is the training is needed – is it to fill a specific skills gap in your workforce?
- the What: What does the training need to deliver – what’s the specific company goal that this training is going to achieve? Is it to help you win more new business pitches, or make internal and external meetings more productive?
- the When: When does it need to take place?
- the Where: Will the training take place onsite or offsite? If offsite, will it be at the training provider’s premises, or somewhere else?
What is almost never discussed, however, is the sixth and very important “W” – the Way.
The advantages of discussing and deciding on the Way
The Way refers to the way in which training can be tailored to reflect and support the culture and values of your organisation, and it influences everything from the language the trainer uses, to the case studies and business simulations that are explored, to the specific practical exercises and activities that the employees are asked to undertake as part of the training.
Instilling company values in your training is a great way to unite your team under a common goal. But there are several other benefits, including getting more out of your training budget.
- Enhanced facilitator credibility – If your attendees see from the get go that their training facilitator understands them and how they work as an organisation, they are more likely to engage with and retain the material, helping to keep the ROI of your training programs high.
- Greater perceived relevance by the attendees – Similarly, your staff will be more likely to see real value in the training if it’s consistent with what they already know. It can also help bring employees closer together, motivating them with common goals that they can work towards as a unified team.
- More relevant and specific training outcomes – By letting your trainer know what the company stands for, you help to ensure that the program will be exactly suited to the organisation, both in terms of substance and style, and is more likely to achieve the specific goals you have set for the training.
- Reinforce company values and ensure they are not lost – By reinforcing company values at each step of an employee’s career through the company, you can further ensure that the company values are not diluted, forgotten or lost along the way.
How to get the Way right from the start
For the company values to be adequately instilled in any external training program, you’ll need to share detailed information about your company values with your potential training providers. This might be in the form of a verbal briefing, but ideally it should be supplemented by relevant documentation. Essentially – brief your training provider as you would a new recruit! The more information the training partner has the more they can tailor the language, exercises, examples, stories and case studies that are used throughout the training session.
There are a few more things to keep in mind:
- Ensure your company values are established and up to date – It may seem like an obvious one but a number of companies, particularly smaller firms and startups, may not have an established set of company values. If it’s a larger company, company values may not have been looked at in a while, meaning that they might be out of date or buried deep in a mountain of digital files and paperwork…. Ensure you regularly check in with leaders and senior staff to ensure that values are always reflective, especially in the face of continued growth and potential changes in company direction. Check out some excellent examples and case studies on how to create solid company values.
- Ensure your employees know the company’s values – If your employees don’t know what your company values even are, then there’s no point expecting the trainer to inform them. Learning company values should be part of any good employee induction program, and should be reinforced periodically to keep them front of mind for everyone at the organisation.
- Choose your training service provider carefully – Many training providers take a very cookie cutter approach to their services, and assume that a one-size-fits-all program will be sufficient for every type of client and business they get through their doors. But treating every business as though it has the same challenges, goals and values as the next is a surefire way to ensure that the training your staff members receive goes in one ear and out the other. Conversely, a good service provider will take the time to discuss your needs with you well before a training date is set, and design a bespoke training plan which strictly adheres to your company’s values.
How do you ensure that your company values are strengthened when utilising external training providers, rather than being ignored, or worse, undermined?