Team training and employee development are both crucial components of a successful company. If you want employees to be invested in the company’s success, you must create a workplace environment that fosters their personal and professional growth and long-term success.
So, how can this be done? It’s simple: provide your team with the tools, resources, and leadership required for proper employee development.
While the answer may be simple, the delivery is not. The world-wide-web is overflowing with advice on how to manage your team and train your employees. You’ve seen thousands of different ways to go about it, from traditional management tactics to unconventional team and leadership strategies.
You could choose to implement any number of the countless training methods out there, but we implore you to adopt the 1984 philosophy of the most legendary instructor to date (fictional existence aside): Mr. Miyagi of Karate Kid fame.
In the hit film The Karate Kid, an ancient martial-arts master takes a young boy under his wing and trains him to be a fearsome child-ninja prodigy. Even though Mr. Miyagi was a fictional character, his patience, wisdom, and instruction have proven to be powerfully effective in the real world—and not excluding the workplace.
By applying the Mr. Miyagi approach to your management style, you’ll be able to create a team of employees who are devoted to their own growth and dedicated to the company’s success.
Our seven team-training secrets will instill in your staff the following valuable lessons that we took from Mr. Miyagi:
- A good mentor is essential for personal growth and career development
- Uncomfortable situations are required for growth
- You will seal your fate as life’s punching bag unless you learn to adapt and progress
- Knowledge and skills worth having don’t come easily
- To face and overcome adversity, you must have self-confidence
- Personal growth requires commitment and perseverance
- Continuous improvement requires that you stay humble
- No matter who you are or how good you are, there is no shortcut to success
- If you better yourself, the score will settle itself
So, without any further ado, we present you with the seven secrets for powerful team training and miraculous employee development:
1. Be a Good Mentor
A team is only ever as good as its leader. It doesn’t matter how impressive your credentials are, what kind of connections you have, or how much you paid for your suit. What does matter is possessing the qualities of a strong and influential leader. Can you inspire others? Can you communicate effectively? Can you adapt to changes and face difficult situations with confidence and ease?
To create exceptional employees, you must become an exceptional mentor. Develop the skills you lack and fine-tune your strengths by studying great leaders, fully understanding your market, and taking coaching courses.
2. Emphasize the Basics
Mr. Miyagi emphasized the universal importance of starting with the basics when he said, “First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine.” He also made quite an impression with the famous words, “wax on, wax off.” This lesson teaches us to work on the basics until the motions are deeply ingrained into muscle memory and thus easily accessible during more-advanced routines.
By making sure every employee is proficient in the most basic operations of their role and the company, you will establish a firm and unshakable foundation of company-wide policies and fundamental operational requirements.
An added benefit to this team-training tactic is humility. Every employee should learn the basics before they advance, regardless of how talented they are or the skills they bring to the table. No exceptions.
3. Provide Hands-on Training
If you want your employees to grasp an important concept or learn a new set of skills, your first move should NOT be to open a PowerPoint presentation. It’s old news that individuals learn best by doing. Dimming the lights in the conference room, narrating dry informational slides, and collecting signatures is the least-effective way to teach anyone anything.
Imagine Mr. Miyagi clicking through a PowerPoint presentation on how to lay the smackdown on rival ninja children. Snore.
Take the time to teach your employees how to do something by allowing them to do it (walk through safety procedures, shadow senior employees, practice cold calls, etc.).
4. Let the Student Become the Teacher
If you’ve ever had to teach anyone anything, you know that one of the best ways to become an expert in something is to teach others how to do it. You can use this powerful tactic for introducing new processes or regulations to your team. Train one employee (or a small number of employees, depending on the size of your company or the material) and assign them the task of training others. Ask them to create a brief presentation and a hands-on walkthrough.
5. Present the Problem and Ask for Solutions
Instead of telling your employees how to do something using a long, bland list of obvious steps, ask them how it should be done. Hold a meeting, present the problem, and ask for ideas. This will get your employees thinking and will make them feel included in the company’s rituals. You can take suggestions, discuss the ideal method, and end on the same page with a motivating sense of unity and contribution. You may even leave the meeting with a better way to get things done.
6. Encourage, Support, and Reward Growth
As a leader, it is your responsibility to establish a positive workplace environment where growth is encouraged and the tools needed for growth are easily accessible. This is especially true for less-fulfilling positions where employees may feel that their jobs are nothing more than a necessary evil or a stepping stone to something better.
Offering employees tuition reimbursement and providing time during the workday for them to enhance their skills are just two ways you can encourage continuous improvement and growth. Don’t forget to reward sincere effort and personal development with public praise, time off, promotions, bonuses, or other forms of recognition. This will teach your employees that you notice and reward personal initiative and hard work.
7. Use Employee-Development Programs
You can spend all the time in the world incorporating tips 1–6 into your team-training rituals, but it won’t do you any good if your employees don’t possess the special skills required to advance in your company.
Let’s say you have an employee named Sarah, and because you saw great potential in her, you invested a lot of company dollars and time into fine-tuning her knowledge, skills, and abilities. Unfortunately, Sarah is extremely shy. She can’t comfortably address the room, run client meetings, or speak up during weekly reviews. You spent all that time and money trying to mold her into an employee who would add great value to the company, but she can barely introduce herself to new coworkers.
And what about another of your employees, John? John is reliable and talented, and thanks to your mentoring, he knows everything there is to know about being your right-hand man. The problem? John buckles at the first whisper of confrontation, whether it concerns him or not. He lacks the ability to reprimand irresponsible workers. He can’t command the attention of a room full of chatty employees, either.
You can bet that even if you did promote them into positions of authority, Sarah and John wouldn’t be taken seriously. Avoid this wasteful problem by using employee-development programs to instill strong leadership skills in your employees.
The Mr. Miyagi Approach
By taking the Mr. Miyagi approach and using these seven secrets to train your employees, you can create a loyal team of high-performing employees who are personally invested in the success of your company. Place great emphasis on learning the basics, foster an environment where growth is prioritized, and fine-tune your employees with ongoing development.