Every year, studies explore the challenges and needs of CEOs around
the world. And while changing economic conditions and accelerating
technology have shifted leaders' focus in recent years, studies
show that CEOs still focus on the same objectives - sales and
profit. Even not-for-profit organizations have the similar goals of
fundraising and cost control.
Training initiatives using these eight strategies can help achieve
the CEO's goals:
- excellence in execution
- customer acquisition and loyalty
- increased productivity
- flexibility and adaptability to change
- innovation, creativity, and problem solving
- employee and team integration; employee engagement
- open, positive communication.
Excellence in execution
It's the CEO's job to create plans for the company, but even the
best laid plans aren't worth the paper they're printed on without
excellent, if not flawless, execution throughout the organization.
This means that everyone knows how to perform their specific job,
and that jobs are a good fit for each individual, both of which are
a crucial role of training. Beyond that, however, comes the real
challenge - how to help employees come up ideas and solutions for
higher levels of execution. A CEO can't possibly know how to do
everyone's jobs better - only the people doing the jobs can! What
programs can you put in place to challenge each individual in the
organization, from the bottom up, to improve quality, delivery, and
Productivity is the merger of efficiency with accomplishment, and
the relationship of effort to reward. In today's world of doing
more with less, maximizing productivity is even more imperative.
One solution is to improve processes, which training can help
execute. Another vital, yet often overlooked need is stress
reduction. Without the release of tension through fun, yet
productive activities, employees will burn out, which results in a
significant reduction in productivity.
Customer acquisition and loyalty
No company can stay in business without customers (or, in the case
of not-for-profit organizations, benefactors). This is why sales
training will always be a viable investment, especially when
segmented into two categories - skills for acquiring new customers
and solutions for offering exemplary service to build long-term
However, the most successful companies go a step further and
embrace the mantra, "Everybody sells." They engage every employee,
from the mail room to the board room, from finance to supply chain,
to recognize their role in the company's sales process. In
addition, everyone can (and should) be trained to improve their
sales skills within the organization. Some of the most ingenious
new product ideas in history have come from people in obscure
positions in a company, but they wouldn't have seen the light of
day if these people hadn't had the ability to "sell" others to take
a chance on their ideas.
Flexibility and adaptability to change
Change can come in any number of forms. Companies might go through
large-scale changes such as a reorganization, merger, or
acquisition or could launch new policies, products, or processes,
or introduce new management.
When new managers are hired, they are challenged to hit the ground
running to achieve results right away. Companies can no longer
afford a six-month or longer assimilation process. Therefore,
training can help with programs that quickly build trust, create
plans, and unify the new team toward reaching their goals.
New policies or processes require a lot of training, not only in
the traditional way of teaching an application, but also in making
sure the new process is accepted by the workers in advance. In
addition, new product launches can also create challenges and
opportunities for training.
Innovation, creativity, and problem solving
Innovation is more important now than ever before. Without it,
companies risk losing sales and market share to competition. 3M, a
historical leader in innovation, draws 25 percent of its sales from
products released in the past five years, which begs the question:
What percentage of your company's sales in five years will come
from products you're not selling today? The next question, of
course, is, "Where are the ideas for new products, services, and
programs going to come from? And how can training help?"
Many companies are embracing a strategy of innovation at all
levels. To accomplish this goal, training staff can offer programs
that help employees generate ideas for new products and services,
classes to stimulate creative problem solving, solutions to improve
decision making, and, perhaps most importantly, programs to
maximize employee engagement to ensure successful implementation of
new product initiatives.
Employee and team integration
As discussed above, change initiatives require training-related
solutions for team integration. When new employees start their
jobs, companies must provide a comprehensive orientation that goes
beyond signing forms and learning where the bathrooms are. New
employees are hired because of their experience and skills.
Therefore, training should provide ways for new employees to
communicate their ideas, build relationships within their immediate
and cross-functional teams, and share their learning from previous
Engagement is one of today's employee development buzzwords. But
what does it mean and how do you achieve it? Engagement is created
by two factors - ownership and performance. Ownership comes from
people feeling like they're part of the solution, that their
suggestions are valued, and that they are empowered to take action
on their ideas. Performance is indicated by the ability to
understand the sources of dissention and embracing diversity of
thought through honest, respectful communication. Training can help
with both by integrating brainstorming, team development, and a
bottom-up social learning approach into the company's initiatives.
Open, positive communication
All CEOs know that dissention and conflict can be extremely
destructive for a corporate culture. However, many may not realize
that the lack of recognizable disputes does not necessarily
indicate that the company operates with optimal communication.
Instead, it could be a sign of active disengagement, where people
have given up, or a culture of too much formality, which limits the
sharing of new ideas. The solution is to offer programs to open up
dialog and encourage the sharing of divergent points of view.
Note: You can download
a free copy of an activity to explore these eight goals with
management at the DrawSuccess website.