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Back-to-School: Employee Training and Performance Management Tips

You don’t need to be in school to learn a few tricks. Employees play a huge part in the success of your business. Retaining and developing a good group of employees can set your business up for bigger things in the future, especially when you consider that replacing an employee can cost up to 50 percent of that employee’s salary.

Employee training and performance management are key HR functions that can help you shape your employees into an even more successful group. Here are some back-to-school tips to help you make sure that your business is on the right path when it comes to training and performance management.

A small business owner going through a performance management review with a happy employee.


Employee Training Tips

Plan Ahead

Whether you just hired a new employee or are preparing to conduct ongoing employee training, it’s good to make a list of everything that employees should learn. This can serve as a checklist to guide you and your employees through the training process. 

Start your list off with simple items or information. For example, a training list for a new employee could kick off with introductory information like where to park, a tour of the workplace, and an introduction to their workspace. As your employees progress through training, the list items can gradually cover more complex information and education. You can also modify this list as you progress through training to account for any knowledge or skill gaps you discover.

Have Employees Get Involved

More than one person can assist with training. In fact, it can be good to have various members of your business train employees on other facets of the business if they’re an expert in a certain area. Not only does this help spread the responsibility of training employees, it can also empower your employees to take a more active role in improving your company.

Another way to have existing employees train newer or younger people at your company is to start a mentoring program. Experienced mentors can help teach other employees things that they normally wouldn’t pick up in manuals, training videos, or other traditional methods. Also, these relationships can help inspire employees to stay with a company, especially for millennials. According to Forbes, “millennials planning to stay with their employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68 percent) than not (32 percent).”

Train Employees Regularly

A single day isn’t nearly enough to truly prepare an employee for a job. Training is an ongoing process that shouldn’t be contained to the beginning of an employee’s tenure at a company. 

Regular training updates can help make sure that employees are on the top of their games and keep them interested and motivated. Continuous professional development can include regular training sessions, all-staff meetings, or outside events like conferences that can help employees maintain skills and knowledge long after their initial onboarding process.

Performance Management

Set Realistic Goals

It’s hard to evaluate an employee’s performance if you don’t set goals for them first. However, an unattainable goal won’t do anything to help motivate employees. Sure, tripling sales numbers for a quarter would be great, but it’s not a good guideline for growth if it’s something an employee has no chance of completing. Instead, base employee goals on the SMART framework:

  • Specific – Clear and relevant to an employee’s duties
  • Measurable – Able to be tracked to determine success
  • Achievable – Reasonable, but still difficult to push employee toward growth
  • Relevant – Worthwhile for both the company and employee
  • Time-based – Has a target date for completion and review

It’s also important to include your employees when it’s time to set goals. If you dictate goals to employees, they won’t be as likely to take them to heart. Giving them some say in what they want to achieve allows employees to own their goals and give them a milestone to work toward in the future.


Setting and reviewing goals shouldn’t be the only time you check in on employees about their performance. Annual reviews provide a good opportunity to discuss overall growth or review goals, but it’s also good to regularly talk with employees about their performance.

A great way to motivate employees is to build relationships with them. Establishing regular face-to-face communication and making yourself available can help employees open up about their thoughts, suggestions, and complaints.

In turn, random check-ins with an employee about how he or she is performing should feel less like a pop quiz and more like a natural work conversation. The information you gather from these talks can be extremely helpful toward making meaningful changes that can help both you and your employees make strides to change your company for the better.

Give Them Rewards They Want

A big part of performance management is making sure that talented employees feel properly rewarded for their hard work. Rewarding employees can benefit business in two impactful ways. First, it can help you save money, as disengaged, disinterested employees led to a loss of up to $550 billion per year for U.S. businesses, according to Entrepreneur. Second, talented employees who don’t feel adequately rewarded are more likely to try and find a job somewhere that will recognize their efforts.

The types of rewards you should use depend on your employees. Financial incentives are an obvious go-to option. However, some of the more impactful rewards are those personalized to fit an individual.

For example, if an employee has children and has to manage dropping kids off at school or daycare, offering them the ability to work from home or shift their hours to be more flexible shows you care while giving them something they want. Other employees may desire chances to advance in the workplace, so rewarding them with the ability to attend conferences or other career development events helps them reach their personal goals. 

These rewards also don’t have to be grand gestures. Small, affordable rewards like open recognition in the office or gift cards are small rewards that can help employees feel validated by the work they did.

Invest in Training and Performance Management

The ongoing development of your employees is important, but it’s also yet another responsibility that’s on your plate. Fortunately, you can still invest in the growth of your employees and business without the time commitment. 

GMS can help take on the administrative burden of training, performance management, and other HR functions so you can spend your time building relationships with your team growing your business in other ways. Contact GMS today to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you strengthen your business today.

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