Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits for Highly Effective People, once said, “If you have to cut things out you just cut people; you cut training and development; you kill the goose that lays the golden egg; for a short term period you improve profits. But then you’ve liquidated the human resources; the trust inside the culture and the voice of people in order to have a short term benefit; in the long run you have to live with the consequences of a dead goose.”

When it comes to training at your credit union or bank, are you killing the golden goose? More than likely you are doing a great deal of training. But is it the right training?

Many credit unions and banks start their training by teaching employees about their core system, their policies and their procedures. Can you say “BORING!” By the time they get in front of a consumer, the new employee is drilled on the computer and the system but have no clue how to engage with (or sell) someone one of your products or services.

As financial institutions, we must now think like retailers. That also means training like a retailer rather than like a traditional financial institution (system, policies, procedures, etc.).

Consider these statistics from Forbes:

  • Spending on training increased 15% in 2014
  • Companies invest the most training dollars in leadership training
  • High performing companies spend more in training
  • Companies on the list of “Great Places to Work” offered 66.5 hours of training annually for salaried employees and 53 hours of training for hourly employees

But what about specific retail organizations? What are they doing to train their employees? Here are a few examples:

  • New employees at The Container Store receive almost 300 hours of training their first year (and many hours in subsequent years as well)
  • New Starbucks employees spend their first 20 hours of employment learning all the ins and outs of the Starbucks culture
  • Everyone’s first day of employment at Disney begins with Disney Tradition, where role model cast members and not professional trainers conduct the training
  • Umpqua Bank offers its employees the “World’s Greatest Bank University” where employees receive hundreds of hours of training

So what type of training should your financial institution offer its employees? Consider these options:

  • Brand training—When do you train your staff to your brand? Hint: It needs to be right away. New hires must learn not just your core system but your core values. And if you haven’t trained your current employees on your brand, consider conducting brand training for them as well.
  • Sales & service training—Most of your employees are not natural sales people. Those soft skills (greeting the consumer, asking questions, offering solutions) are vital if you want your sales numbers to increase.
  • One-on-one coaching—Once classroom training is complete, you have to reinforce those skills regularly. Whether a formal trainer offers the coaching or their manager, an employee must receive regular feedback.
  • Product knowledge training—Your employees will not sell what they do not understand. Make sure you are regularly training (and testing) your employees on your products and services.
  • Advanced sales training—The majority of your sales are probably coming from your top 10 or 20 percent of your employees. So why train everyone the same? The most successful financial institutions are now offering advanced sales training for their top performers.
  • Leadership training—John Maxwell once said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” At your financial institution, everything rises and falls on how well your leaders perform. So make sure you are investing in them.

Top performing retailers don’t just grow automatically. They invest in their employees with top-notch training. Are you?