Best Business Practices, Part VII

Continuing Training Policy

As the old saying goes, “Check, re-check and then check again.”

And so it goes in the seventh installment of our series on best practices in the legal debt collection industry. This week we discuss the need for a continuing training policy.

As with any job, an employee will have certain training at the outset of employment. We all too often leave the employee after that with only on-the-job experience.

Bussiness meeting

 But just like the machines that your business will use need tune-ups and computers need new software, your employees need reminded of their initial training and formally trained on new skills and techniques. Therefore, your continuing training policy should consider the following questions:

  1. In which areas of our business should our employees be trained periodically?

Certain jobs require no re-training—they are obvious. But there are other matters, typically the issues that arise in security, compliance or regulatory training, that require re-training, as a person is bound to forget the details of a policy or a procedure over time unless it is re-read or rehearsed.

Ask yourself this important question:  What policies exist in this business that if an employee were to forget it or forget the complete details of it, could cause my business or client harm?

For example, employees at Atkins & Ogle Law Offices, LC learn about a federal law known as the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act at the outset of their employment. It is essential knowledge in our industry, and failure to adhere to this act could prove damaging to a consumer, which could also prove costly to our clients and ultimately this firm. This is an example of something that we have chosen to periodically re-train.

  1. Can we categorize these areas of our business and train them together periodically?

Above, we mentioned as examples the likely categories of:

  1. Security: Physical Plant, Data
  2. Compliance: Cease & Desist, Out-of-Statute, Compliant Handling, etc.
  3. Regulatory: FDCPA, Bankruptcy, other federal, state and local laws

Consider whether you should keep as many subject matters together as possible (for continuity) or whether spreading your training out and testing more often and more consistently would be better for your staff.

  1. How should we train and what will be our standard for determining whether an employee passes or fails training?

What is the best method for training or re-training your material?  Should you design tests, have teaching sessions or try on-line training?

Assuming you have some method for evaluation, such as testing your employees on their knowledge, will you require your employees to receive a mere passing grade? A 90 percent? A perfect score? Consider the question raised above. Given the particular topic, what level of failure is acceptable to your customers and your business?

  1. Who is able to train, test and evaluate our employees, and should this change depending on the task?

Perhaps you have a person in your business solely responsible for all employee training. Or, perhaps this responsibility will always fall on the owner or managing partner.  Consider, however, that different tasks bring different challenges and there will naturally exist in your business various individuals or job titles better suited for those training duties.

The appropriate question to ask when assigning training duty is, if you truly need your employees to understand this information and you need to be ready to explain how you prepared this employee to have this information, then who is the best equipped or most logical person to be tasked with training?

Remember, whatever you decide, make sure it is always documented in a written policy.

Drop by next week for the final installment of Better Business Practices on information security policies.

“A man, though wise, should never be ashamed of learning more and must unbend his mind.” – Sophocles, Antigone