If you google “employ­ee devel­op­ment” there are over 1.5 BILLION hits. There are an infi­nite num­ber of ways to improve your team’s per­for­mance and there­in lies the prob­lem. Where do you start!?

I believe the first thing busi­ness own­ers need to under­stand is the dif­fer­ence between train­ing and edu­ca­tion.

Train­ing is uti­lized when you are try­ing to increase the uni­for­mi­ty, effi­cien­cy and repeat­able qual­i­ty of your prod­uct or ser­vice. Edu­ca­tion is uti­lized to increase the auton­o­my of your employ­ees to reduce the need for heavy hand­ed man­age­ment, nim­ble response, and increased customer/client sat­is­fac­tion.

Next, you need to under­stand where your team is as a whole as well as who will cham­pi­on this effort with you.

There are four quad­rants in which your team could find them­selves.

  1. Low Competence/Low Uni­for­mi­ty: teams in this quad­rant are prob­a­bly strug­gling with intense micro­man­age­ment, low employ­ee morale, incon­sis­tent qual­i­ty of service/product, low to no prof­it and most like­ly high employ­ee turnover. In short, nobody on this team is hap­py.
  2. High Competence/Low Uni­for­mi­ty: many pro­fes­sion­al ser­vice firms find them­selves in this quad­rant. There is more than enough thought-lead­er­ship to go around, but very lit­tle struc­ture on how to deliv­er your ser­vice to your clients. If your busi­ness strug­gles with client turnover attached to employ­ee churn most like­ly you are miss­ing a train­ing com­po­nent with­in your employ­ee devel­op­ment cur­ricu­lum. Clients and cus­tomers get attached to their “per­son” because there isn’t a cohe­sive expe­ri­ence with­in the com­pa­ny. This com­pa­ny may look like rock­stars to the out­side world, but most like­ly is very much strug­gling with prof­itabil­i­ty and often finds itself putting out fires.
  3. Low Competence/High Uni­for­mi­ty: teams often find them­selves in this quad­rant when there is a leader who is too strong willed. Often this can be a symp­tom of Founder’s Syn­drome or a pas­sion­ate leader who hasn’t yet learned how to “bring peo­ple along”. Teams in this quad­rant pro­duce excel­lent work and the com­pa­ny is most like­ly deliv­er­ing at least indus­try aver­age prof­it, but the own­er and top lead­ers are most like­ly expe­ri­enc­ing intense burnout from hav­ing to repeat­ed­ly “res­cue” their team mem­bers.
  4. High Competence/High Uni­for­mi­ty: This is the dream. You’ve found the right bal­ance of edu­ca­tion & train­ing to cre­ate a team that feels con­fi­dent they under­stand not only their job, but how it fits with­in the over­all mis­sion of the com­pa­ny and have the right skills and struc­ture to effi­cient­ly pro­duce qual­i­ty work. The own­er and lead­er­ship team would be able to focus on strate­gic items, the customers/clients are hap­py & refer eas­i­ly and the com­pa­ny is “print­ing mon­ey” it is so prof­itable for it’s indus­try.

So, what if you aren’t in the upper right quad­rant? How do you get there?

If you’ve iden­ti­fied your team in the low­er left quad­rant there isn’t a diag­o­nal move. Take a look at your biggest stress as an owner/leader.

If you are mak­ing sales, but not pro­duc­ing income or ter­ri­fied a key employ­ee could walk and take a huge piece of your busi­ness or you nev­er quite feel you have a full view of what you team is actu­al­ly doing, you need to focus on train­ing. Map out your most crit­i­cal sys­tems and lit­tle by lit­tle set­up the struc­tures to sup­port effi­cien­cy and uni­for­mi­ty. Lever­age those big beau­ti­ful brains you employ to build out a train­ing that will cre­ate more con­sis­tent results at all lev­els of the busi­ness.

If you feel like you are con­stant­ly hold­ing your teams hand or can’t take time away because there is always a deci­sion (big or small) that needs to be made or you are just sick of feel­ing “alone at the top”, it’s time to focus on edu­ca­tion. What are the key con­cepts that your team needs to be edu­cat­ed on? Do they need a deep­er under­stand­ing of your core pur­pose, mar­ket niche, client needs, etc. Take the obvi­ous genius you have for devel­op­ing sys­tems and cre­ate an edu­ca­tion sys­tem to build auton­o­my with­in your team so you can step away and watch them blos­som.