Do you worry about yourself, or your staff taking time out from the business to attend a conference and worry that you won’t get much out of it? Attending events can be invaluable for business and individual development.
Here we've produced a handy guide giving you tips for before, during and after the event to make sure it's worthwhile for you or your staff.
> Lyonshall are members of the HTA Retail Business Improvement Schemes (RBIS), meeting with the Midlands RBIS group up to six times a year
> Meetings with other members and a specialist garden industry consultant, involve sharing experiences and helping each other solve business problems
> Discussions regularly on the agenda include recent state of trade, new products and learning from eachother to make significant changes to improve business
> Lyonshall's owner Simon Thomas describes how being part of the group over the last 10 years has helped him build a solid turnover, along with the invaluable networking element providing a good sounding board for business development
Knights Garden Centre
> Knights believe strongly that investing in the learning & development of their staff leads to happier customers and a more profitable business in the long run, protecting their legacy
> They've recently adopted a new structure of line-management based around objectives and their departments
> They regularly use a skills matrix to identify knowledge gaps across the business and plan for staff cover too (i.e. sickness, holiday etc.)
> They also have discussions with their staff about their preferred learning style
With a vast choice of learning and development options available, how do you decide which approach works best for you or for your staff? Is it reading long pages of writing or attending a hands-on practical workshop? Maybe it's an interactive e-learning module?
Everyone processes information differently and so it's important to have discussions with your staff or your manager, to identify the most efficient and beneficial learning approach on an individual-by-individual basis.
We've produced an information brochure that describes the different learning styles and how to apply them:
Does your business have objectives to achieve and need to identify the training and development required to achieve them? Read on to learn about and download an article by Sarah Cook of the Stairway Consultancy about an exercise called Learning Needs Analysis (LNA).
LNA should take place at the beginning of the learning cycle. Information gathered in this phase, should shape what learning is required at organisational (strategic), departmental (operational) or individual level. Its focus is to identify performance gaps related to skills, knowledge and behaviour, and develop objectives and interventions to address these.
Typically these identify the development needed to support the business strategy, objectives and KPIs and are typically conducted with senior managers. Wider factors that could impact the business are also considered (political, economic, socio-cultural, technological) and the competitive strategy of the business (strengths, weaknesses, opportunites and threats). Learn more about PEST and SWOT analysis here
Likely questions asked are:
> What factors external to the organization will affect the organisation's capability requirements in the longer term?
> What learning and development is required and what are the expected outcomes?
Often driven by the above, departmental LNA identifies training development needs across a department or functional area of the business, linked to business outcomes.
Typical discussions are:
> What business issues need resolving and what objectives are needed to achieve this?
> Is the problem related to skills, knowledge or behaviour, or a combination of these?
> How can the effectiveness of the training be evaluated?
Typically involving line managers, individual LNA identifies what skills, knowledge or behaviour is needed to achieve departmental and therefore business objectives.
Useful questions are:
> What are the future business priorities and how might these affect the role you play?
> What skills, knowledge or behaviours may you need to demonstrate or acquire to meet these needs?
Article by Sarah Cook of the Stairway Consultancy. Specialists in Leadership, Customer Services, Team Building and Personal Effectiveness.
John Stanley is a world renowned retail consultant, speaker and author whose work aims to help his clients and audiences better understand the consumer. He's recently written an article for HTA News sharing how businesses can think about their competitive strategy.
John says that the product is what the customer buys, but the experience is what they remember. In this article he highlights 5 key questions to ask in business meetings, so that you can build an experience for the customer around your answers.
Skills can now be easily gained or upgraded with the vast amount of information online.
The following report from trend experts Foresight Factory gives real examples and describes the opportunities for businesses like yours, in:
> Customer experience
> Work & skills
> Consumer technology
How to prioritise tasks and improve time management
Got lots of things on your 'to do' list and not sure where to start? Or perhaps you're a team leader and want to help your team organise their time?
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix can be a helpful way to think about tasks on your 'to do' list by categorising them based on importance and urgency.
Urgent tasks are those that require immediate attention and would have direct implications if they weren't completed ASAP.
Important tasks are things that contribute to long-term goals, but aren't typically urgent. These tasks often require more research and thought.
The matrix is divided up into four quadrants, encouraging you to focus on urgent and important tasks and reconsider those that are less important and/or urgent.
The aim of a Personal Development Plan (PDP) is to document reflection on performance (strengths and weaknesses); and to set goals and implement the development needed to achieve them.
PDP's can be useful for an individual looking to progress their career, or for a team leader/manager to discuss achieveable goals to work towards and develop.
Download our example below - it is not directly related to horticulture, but using the same table/section headings you can create your own template.
New competition is entering the garden market all the time. Strategic business planning exercises can help businesses like yours to identify its competitive advantage and use it successfully.
Download the handy guide below to guide you through how to think about your business' competitive strategy. There's lots of handy exercises and tools to go through, including:
PEST analysis - work through the 4 factors (Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, Technology) to better understand the environment that you’re competing in to decide on a strategy
Porter's five forces - identify where power lies in the market (e.g. Supplier Power, Buyer Power, Threat of Substitution) and determine if you're in a position of strength, or if it could be improved
USP analysis - find your Unique Selling Point (USP) and develop strategies to defend it
Core competencies analysis - determine what your business is good at, what your customers value and develop in areas that really matter to them
SWOT analysis - identify your business' strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities and quickly find potential courses of action
Taking time out of the business can be difficult and so when you do, it is important to look at the value added to the business by attending training. Or perhaps you've done some staff training in-house and want to evaluate how successful it has been.
The Kirkpatrick Learning Evaluation Model is a useful guide to help measure the impact training has had. Read on and download the Mind Tools guide to learn more.