T.E.A.M, teamThis is the time of year that people often think about ways to improve their company during the coming year. One very effective way to improve most businesses is to “unleash the power of training.” This means getting people in all parts of the business; owners, managers, office staff, production, quality assurance and maintenance to participate in training that is appropriate for the area(s) of the company in which they are involved. In order for us to grow as individuals and for companies to grow and prosper, we must all be “lifelong learners.”

Owners must have a vision for the future. They must have a plan for company growth and sustainability. They must also have a plan for business succession. Without this kind of leadership the company cannot and will not be successful. Managers must understand all aspects of the company and of equal importance they must be able to effectively interact and communicate with people. The biggest challenge we all face in both our personal and professional lives is communication. Without effective communication a company’s potential is severely stunted.

Office personnel must have good computer skills for the programs they routinely use. It is also critical that receptionists and other staff have good communication skills. How often have you been unable to tell with whom you are talking or even the company you are calling based on the way the phone is answered? Don’t let that happen to people that call your company. If you use automated equipment make sure your answering system directs people to the appropriate place to get the answers they need. Don’t make it difficult for people to be able to talk with someone at your company.

Production personnel are an essential part of your company. They routinely perform the activities that produce the products you sell. They must clearly know what is expected of them. They must be trained in your company’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) and HACCP Plan(s). Without effective training in these areas they will not know what is expected of them or how to carry out assigned tasks. Lack of training of production personnel can severely hamper a company’s efficiency.

Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) people must clearly understand the specifications for the product you produce and how to properly sample the products to assure compliance with specifications. QA/QC personnel must also be trained in proper record keeping procedures.

Maintenance personnel must be trained in how to properly set up and maintain equipment. They need to also be trained in facility maintenance. It is always important to be involved in preventive maintenance rather than being only reactive to breakdowns.

Two critical areas of training for all plant employees are Food Safety and Food Defense. On an annual basis employees should receive training in both areas. Food safety problems, which can be devastating to a company, are accidental, due to a lack of knowledge or a combination of both. Effective food safety training can significantly decrease the probability of food safety incidents. Food defense issues are the result of someone’s intentional actions, so good training in food defense produces a well-educated work force that can be on the lookout for food defense concerns.

Remember: One of the most valuable assets of a company is its employees. For employees to achieve their full potential they must be properly trained. Make 2014 a year you help employees achieve their potential. Well trained employees contribute significantly to the success of a company. Unleash the power of training.