This is Challenge #14 and it shows up in Stage 5. In hindsight, there are three key elements I wished I had focused on regarding staff training.

  1. Spent more time understanding the specific skills and talents each position required.
  2. Known about the book by Patrick Lencioni, Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.
  3. Starting from within, trained people on what makes a great company.

The definition of staff training is: To improve the skills, performance or knowledge of employees.

As with the topic of leadership, there is no lack of books that address the topic of staff training. If you simply Google “best practices for staff training,” you’ll find a wealth of ideas on how to make training enjoyable and different methods of training including classroom, virtual, online, etc. My focus on staff training has to do with why it shows up specifically in Stage 5. It’s important for CEOs to better understand what type of training is needed to remove this hidden agent, which creates obstacles to a company’s ability to grow.

Here are some key factors that a Stage 5 CEO needs understand regarding staff training.

  1. The top gate of focus in Stage 5 is Profit followed by People. When your staff isn’t properly trained, mistakes happen more frequently and with greater consequences. When mistakes happen, your bottom line is affected. Paying attention to how well prepared your people are to do their jobs effectively and efficiently will pay off in spades when you move into Stage 6.
  2. The challenge of “difficulty forecasting problem areas before they surface” can be mitigated when you have a well-trained staff that knows what to look for when it comes to problems and properly trained to address those problems when they show up.
  3. In Stage 5, managers have a Dominant presence in the company. They should use that influence to become champions for training at all levels. Their budgets should reflect that priority.

To clearly understand what training employees (at all levels) need to help their job performance, ask the following set of questions.

  • What exactly do you do every day to perform your job?
  • Where do you find yourself getting frustrated or having to redo certain tasks or processes daily?
  • Where are the bottlenecks? People, Processes, Profit/Revenue challenges?
  • Give me three tasks that you perform every day that you do very well.
  • Give me three tasks that you perform every day that you struggle with.
  • Define the most critical tasks you perform every day.
  • When you encounter a problem, do you know where to go to get answers?
  • Can you identify where your responsibility lies in the overall workflow?
  • If you knew more about _____________(ask them to fill in the blank) you would feel more confident in your performance.

These conversations should occur on a regular basis, perhaps as a part of weekly one-on-one meetings. (Your CEOs ARE doing those one-on-one meetings, right?) Help your CEOs recognize employee training and skill development as an ongoing responsibility and communicate the purpose to help their staff improve their ability to perform well, reduce frustration and enjoy what they do.

When leaders address employee training needs, bear in mind that those employees may be reluctant to tell leadership what they don’t know. It’s human nature to avoid discussing weaknesses. Being asked to articulate something they do not know about the job they were hired to do falls into that category.

Help your CEOs to help people understand that not knowing something isn’t a weakness. Help them feel comfortable sharing where they need help and emphasize the value of wanting to improve their skills.

The most effective way for a leader to achieve this is by helping them see the impact their performance has on the bottom line. When people understand that what they do everyday increases the company’s chance for continued success, they become engaged in their own self-directed learning approach. Creating an environment that allows for an open discussion around difficult topics is important, and especially so in Stage 5.

In my Stage 5 book, I outline Patrick Lencioni’s four disciplines from his book The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. The power of those four disciplines simply reminds CEOs and leaders to “repeat critical messages over and over again.”

Discipline #1:  Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team
Discipline #2:  Create Organizational Clarity
Discipline #3:  Over-Communicate Organizational Clarity
Discipline #4: Reinforce Organizational Clarity Through Human Systems

As business owners, sometimes we have to force ourselves to think differently about very traditional problems. Staff training is chief among a “traditional” problem. When CEOs recognize that their people are their business, training takes on a much broader view. People impact every aspect of a company.

A critical aspect of creating a company people love to be a part of is helping people deal with uncomfortable situations and ultimately dealing with conflict. Help your CEOs provide their employees an opportunity to talk about these situations. When two co-workers disagree, it shouldn’t escalate into a detrimental argument.

Starting on page 267 in my Stage 5 book, Leadership Integration: How to Cultivate Collaboration from the Top Down with 58 – 95 Employees, you’ll find a Conflict Awareness in the Workplace Exercise that forces difficult conversations to occur before they escalate. You can get your Stage 5 book at

Your Success. My Passion.

Laurie Taylor, FlashPoint!