From XU Magazine, 
Issue 18

“Just a minute, can I ask a quick question?”

How training increases efficiency

How often is your day taken up, and sometimes derailed, by the innocent “quick question” that turns into a time consuming saga you need to fix?

While this ‘quick question’ seems innocent, it generally is a result of this employee needing a better understanding of a situation or more training. Now, asking questions is an important part of the job, and it is preferred to ask someone rather than have them create a massive amount of re-work to fix things done incorrectly. But this can quickly become a problem when you need to deal with the same questions over and over.

Investing time into training your staff allows employees to reach their peak potential faster. Training also helps increase productivity, improve your team’s efficiency, and opens up opportunities for growth in your firm.

From a previous job I had, an employee who, after two years in their role, finally managed to pull the pieces together and understand why things worked the way they did. For the first time they actually knew what they are doing instead of just following the process. I finally had confidence they could work autonomously and get better results for clients. This epiphany came just after his resignation and all that knowledge walked out the door.

Imagine if that employee had this level of understanding earlier. How would it change the business if instead of waiting 2 years for someone to learn their role, you managed to teach them in 6 months? Or even 3? How much more would you get for your investment? How much happier would your employees be?

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that training is linked to performance, so why do companies overlook this so often? Training can be seen as a cost, and if times are tough, it is often cut. But training should really be seen as an investment in the future of the company.

According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training. In addition these companies also enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training. (bit.ly/2HXgxnA)

In late 2018 I was able to attend the CPA.com/AICPA Executive Round Table for accountancy thought leaders in Sydney, Australia. One of the main topics discussed was if the qualifications graduates receive from their education provides them adequate skills to be effective in the workplace. The consensus was that the course structure could be improved so that graduates hit the ground running when they start with a firm. While there were some positive initiatives that will improve things over time, the reality is you will need to teach your employees how to operate effectively in your firm.

Poor training, or no training, leads to a lack of understanding and contributes to a lesser client experience. If you can train your team to become masters of their universe and understand the full scope of their work they will quickly become efficient, which saves you time and money.

Training should not only prepare the employee to do a job, but also to understand why they do what they do. If your staff do not understand why a process is set up in a particular way, it is harder for them to cope with unique circumstances, to think outside the box, and problem solve on the fly. If an employee operates strictly by following a step-by-step process without mastering the full scope of their role, these tasks can grind to a halt as soon as something falls outside of normal routine. Alternatively if your staff understands why they are working in a certain way, they will be far more capable of making their own risk evaluations of situations and can then escalate issues only as needed.

Training should be seen as a constantly evolving process; it should change and grow with your business, your clients, and regulatory changes.

Look at any high performance athlete at the top of their game, they are always looking to improve, working on new things, and wanting to be better. Your team should do the same.

No one can create more time, but we can create more efficiency in our businesses and more value for our clients. Creating value is where we can push margins and increase revenue opportunities. Training that has been built into your team since day one will improve your productivity and efficiency, meaning you will have more time to work on adding or growing other value services which can open new revenue channels. With your staff having a greater level of effectiveness both your firm and your clients will benefit.

A lack of training and understanding create wasted time and resources. ‘Quick questions’ turn into issues passed from person to person, none of whom are able to fix it. Situations that should have been resolved in minutes can take days or weeks. By establishing quality training early on in your employee’s career at your firm, and maintaining ongoing education, you can solve many of these roadblocks to your firm’s growth.

Why leave it there?

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