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.