Growing your startup can be the biggest challenge. Maybe you are going from a one-man solopreneur operation to hiring employees, or from a small staff to an expanded one that includes more specialists and those who manage them.
Whether you are expanding using venture capital (VC), angel investing, or through other funding methods, your first obstacle will be to bring more personnel on board and get them trained in your methods by familiarizing them with your organization. The second will be taking some existing employees and moving them to positions of leadership.
For this to happen smoothly, you will need a training program, and one of the most efficient ways is to establish a learning management system. This is essentially a software-based training program that helps deliver educational courses or other parts of a training program, track employee and team progress, and report various statistics to management.
Why a learning management system? Here are a few reasons a learning management system will help you grow your startup.
Setting Up New Hires for Success
The first place any new hire starts is with training. Some of that training involves simple things like HR policies and procedures and getting tax documents set up. However, once things are past that basic stage, there is a ton for a new hire to learn, even if they have experience in your industry.
Every company does things differently. Knowing what software you are using, from project management to communication tools like Slack, and what the company policies are for operating within them is one aspect. If the employee is familiar with similar programs to the ones you are using this can be an easy transition, but in some cases, it can be more challenging.
Having a learning management system allows the new hire to get through at least some of these things on their own. This is especially helpful if you employ or are hiring remote workers.
Learning the Next Step Up
Of course, the next thing you need a learning management system for is those who are moving up in the company. Promotions come with added expectations and responsibilities, often meaning there is a need for new skills. Even if the employee is an expert at their current position, new leadership skills are often required.
An LMS is often the best way to deliver these courses. The employee can keep working in their current position and take courses as their schedule allows. They can even take the courses anywhere, much like remote employees, and, given the time to do so, can take them at home or anywhere they have a solid Wi-Fi connection. This helps alleviate downtime and productivity lulls that often occur before or after formal training classes and meetings.
With enough advance notice of the coming changes, the employee can move at their own pace, making them better able to absorb materials and work on applying them in their future position. A software-based solution saves time, money, and wasted effort on the part of the employee and the employer.
Lateral Movements Within the Company
As you grow, there will be times in your company when you need to reorganize and that might mean employees making a lateral move from one department to the other. While some of the skills they possess may cross over, there will be some new ones they need to learn or at least become familiar with.
For instance, the best person to supervise software engineers is not always a software engineer. Sometimes you need someone with project management experience and other skills in that position. However, if the manager is familiar with the engineering process, they will be much better prepared to assist when needed, and will at least be aware of the obstacles those they are supervising face.
A degree is not necessary in this case, but a few courses and a training program can ensure they are relatable to employees or at least speak the same language. There are countless other examples of when a lateral move requires some learning, and a learning management system is often the best solution.
Do you know everything about your industry that you need to? The answer is probably no, and even if you are a master today, things are changing so rapidly in many fields that tomorrow your knowledge may be outdated.
For instance, in the area of marketing and advertising, Google, Facebook, and other advertising platforms are always changing policies, procedures, and even the algorithms that allow them to target certain users. The social media platform of today may not be the platform of tomorrow, and the knowledge of how to operate as a business in that space will require some specialized learning.
Especially at the C-level, ongoing education is extremely important. Full schedules, meetings, and other factors can make this a challenge, but it is one a learning management system is well-suited for. The platforms offer flexible schedules and learning from any location, and ideal for the management of a growing startup.
You’ve found the right talent, and now you want to keep it. But as Rand Fishkin says in his recent book, Lost and Founder, if management is the only way to advance, your company has a problem. You need to learn what motivates your employees to stay, and then you can implement things to keep them happy.
This often includes offering education opportunities, having career tracks inside of a specialty, and recognizing effort and accomplishment. Incentivizing learning also incentivizes staying. Employees who feel valued, acknowledged, and appreciated engage more in education and invest more in staying with your company.
Growing your startup involves many moving pieces, and learning is just one of them, but it is a key one. A good learning management system can make the difference between success and constant struggle.