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Training & Development: How to Get it Right

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After carrying out an intensive recruitment process to source the very best people for your business, you may think you can breathe a sigh of relief and eagerly anticipate the arrival of your new consultants. Wrong. The hard work must not stop there, and this is particularly pertinent for staff retention. The recruitment industry has a notoriously high staff churn rate and consequently it is vital to develop a comprehensive and on-going training and development programme to ensure every chance of success.

At ConSol Partners we are fortunate enough to have a very low attrition rate, and this is largely down to our focus on growing our own talent rather than hiring based on experience. Put simply this allows us to mould individuals the ConSol way and creates a valuable and committed pool of talent. It could, of course, be argued that it is risky to take on an employee with limited sector knowledge, but it gives us the opportunity to teach individuals the basics without them picking up bad habits that don’t fit with our visions and values. Our low staff turnover is also down to our commitment to providing staff with on-going training and development opportunities to ensure they not only do the job to the very best of their ability, but that they also remain with the business. So what do you need to consider for your organisation?

When anyone joins you it is vital that from day one they have a clear training and development plan tailored to them. There is no use just having a companywide strategy which may not cover individual requirements. At ConSol we ensure that staff are not only briefed on what training we offer across the board (including classroom training sessions, one-to-one coaching, brainstorms, and weekly group sessions to name a few) but that they also have their own plan which is reviewed and changed regularly dependant on what they need and what their manager deems necessary.  By having this structure in place we not only show our team the value we place on learning and development, but also that we acknowledge that each person has different needs.

Having a clear career path is also vital to ensure staff remain with your business and develop. By being open and honest about where a consultant might be in a year or even 5 years’ time is absolutely vital for not only retention, but it also acts as a driver for top performance from your team. At ConSol, for example, we have a PROGRESS handbook which gives a step by step guide to moving up the career ladder. PROGRESS maps out not only what staff must achieve to get to the next level, but also what they will be earning at each stage. This is a real driver for personal development and has been hugely successful.

Offering comprehensive training on a regular basis is paramount; however you also need to ensure consultants can put this into practice. Practical on the job experience, in conjunction with classroom based learning, is what makes a training strategy truly successful. At ConSol we not only have a full time onsite learning and development manager, but I am also a Dale Carnegie Master Trainer, so consultants have access to training from different people with different experiences.

However we also place a huge emphasis on on-the-job training. Our graduate talent academy, which new recruits attend, for example, encompasses so much more than classroom learning.  This academy sits away from the main sales floor which greatly helps confidence levels as individuals are free to make mistakes with only their peers around to hear them. And errors are made – not only because they are new to recruitment, but also because we strongly believe that to develop our people they need to put their training into practice from the beginning.

Finally organisations must ensure that staff have access to training and developmental resources at all times – not solely when they are in the office or attending a training session. This is why we have developed our hugely successful Talent Hub. This bespoke training platform offers links to training articles, videos, market information and on line assessments which can be accessed at any time and really compliments our formal training.

I strongly believe that a company can only be as good as the training function available. It’s vital, therefore, that you invest heavily in training and development to ensure you not only retain your talent but also provide the best service to you clients.  So ask yourself, is your training and development strategy up to scratch?

Written By: Marc Cohen, Director at ConSol Partners

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