Have Your Set Up Your RTO Team For Success Or Stress?

Discover 3 common RTO staff frustrations and how to solve them
As a Business Coach, I'm often working not only with the RTO CEO/Manager, but many of their staff. This is because many CEOs/Managers are too busy juggling 'everything' and as much as they want to support their staff; the clock and emails seem to have other ideas.

And I totally get this – when I was running RTOs, my biggest challenge was how to manage my work and provide my team with the time, support and tools they needed to succeed.

But as I say to my clients and members; if you have staff, then whether you like it or not, 50% of your time should now be dedicated to helping them.

Side note: For those of you who disagree or don't like that percentage, then I'd suggest looking for a different position which doesn't involve managing a team; or if you're the owner, look at ways to have a smaller business which you can manage by yourself.

So back to the blog.

Now I know many of you will be thinking (or screaming at me 😊):
I want to do that Tamara but I just don't have the time!

As I've said in many blogs before and on my webinars, we all have the same amount of time, it's what we do with it that matters and can create such a difference.
But this blog isn't about tips to help you focus your time. If you need those, please visit my website or invest in my webinars.
Instead, I want to put you in the shoes of your team as I share with you some of their biggest frustrations and how to solve them...simply.
FOCUS:  Manage Your Team
I truly believe, with the best of intentions, you want to set your team up for success instead of stress.

Of course you do, yet unfortunately by lack of action or not the best choices, this is exactly the result you could be seeing and hearing in your RTO.

Or even worse, you could be so busy and focused on just what you're doing, you could be missing the warning signs that your staff are stressed and overwhelmed instead of loving to come to work and enjoying their role.

And unless these frustrations are actually addressed, you risk losing great staff to either another RTO or out of the sector completely as part of The Great Resignation we are now seeing play out all over the world. And for the VET sector who has been hit hard the last two years, this would be a tragic loss of knowledge, passion and expertise.

So let me share with you three common frustrations staff tell me about to see if they're happening at your RTO and how to address them. And if they're not, I hope it provides you with ideas about what to keep an eye out for so if they do crop up, you can deal with them quickly and easily.

This may be the most obvious one but I'm always bemused by the fact that RTOs – who are passionate about training the future workforce – often don't bring this same passion and structure into training their own staff.

The number of new staff who aren't provided with these critical tools is astonishing:

β€’ A summary list of who does what in the RTO and who reports to whom

β€’ Documented procedures (The Handbook) of actually how to do their job

β€’ Videos to show them how to eg use the LMS/SMS so they can data entry enrolments and report to State Training Services for funding
β€’ Weekly catch ups to see how they're doing and if they need anything else – tools, resources, support etc
I could go on for pages about what's missing for new employees but I won't.
If people don't have these tools when they start working with you, then instead of setting them up for success; by default, you're setting them up for stress and who wants that!


I believe induction is even more important than recruitment.

This is because I know many RTOs don't have a good recruitment process. Often it's rushed and because you're trying to fill a gap, the same old questions are asked eg
β€’ what are your weaknesses and how do you believe you'll manage that here?
β€’ you've got TAE and industry experience. Great when can you start?

Often there's no testing of knowledge and experience in the interview process so you don't see how accurately a person enters data into an LMS or how they would present a training session or conduct an assessment.

These skills are either assumed as good or something you'll work on, if needed, during the probation period.

But without a structured induction program which involves training them in how to do their job at your RTO, regular meetings to see how they're going and providing the necessary support to ensure they're a right fit for your culture; you'll get to the last day of probation, have a quick meeting to see if they're happy to stay and unless there's been major personality issues, you extend the employment contract.

It's only later on when you discover they don't have the skills they said, there are issues between them and your team members, or they're struggling to do the work because of your lack of documented systems, training and support.

And now there's a problem which is more complicated to solve rather than if you'd sorted this out in the probation period.

So develop a structured Induction Program for each position in your RTO which includes weekly catchups on Friday to make sure your employee feels welcomed and supported in their new role.

P.S If you don't have these tools or need some help with this, then check out my RTO GROW Program which gives you the training and templates you need to get this job off your list quickly and easily.


I wonder if you've had similar discussions at your RTO.

You know what we could do. Let's add Cert III, IV and Diploma of Childcare to our scope, even though we know nothing about the sector, have no one to train it, and it has no linkages with our current expertise in Forestry. But there's funding available so there must be a need so let's put all our energy into that whilst we're also training our forestry students, even though we're at maximum capacity.

Unfortunately, I hear this story too often in RTO Land, even with some of my coaching clients and members. And it's then we have the conversation about what is the purpose of your RTO and who really are your ideal students which isn't 'everyone'.

Staff who are already overloaded cringe when they hear these ideas because instead of it meaning a change of focus just for the short term to grab a truly financial opportunity; it results in additional work rather than stopping one project or tasks to do something different.

Is it any wonder this is a huge frustration of staff?

They just want to do their job and do it really well. But instead of consolidating it with clarity and documented procedures to make their lives easier. too often the great ideas take over common sense which results in more and more changes and yes work!

And in a time of great change, this lack of focus can be the breaking point.


In last month's blog, I suggested 2022 was the year to really look at your Business Model to see if it is financially viable and sustainable, beyond just this year.

Now I hate to break it to you but if you haven't realised this already; you can't have it all, do it all and help everyone.

It's a fallacy which is no longer real and the quicker we all start to realise it, the quicker we will run less, stop more and take the time out needed to think... to determine what's truly important and how it can be achieved.

Staff are craving clarity and consistency so stop jumping at shadows and resist the shiny objects which are usually distractions rather than opportunities.

Decide once and for all what training you're really good at - which is where you have the networks and the database of customers who love what you do and will pay.

Then invest your valuable time and energy into doing what you do .... even better.


This final frustration leads on from the last one.

It's easy to say 'X will do that' because she's a go getter who just gets on with it and seems to easily get everything done on time.

But everyone has a tipping point where goodwill and teamwork (I want to help this business because I love it) changes to frustration, anger and sometimes resignation because they can't do any more than they're doing. And yet more and more is being asked of them – with no consideration of the stress they're already under.

And in case you didn't know, multitasking doesn't result in more productivity. It results in less as mistakes and stress increase through the distractions of notifications, the pressure to do more with less and a crowded and noisy brain which is working overtime.


If you truly want to set your team up for success rather than stress, then instead of adding tasks to an already overwhelming To Do List which will never be completed, you have to ask these 3 questions first:

1. Does Tamara have the capacity, on top of their existing workload, to do this extra task, work, project etc?

2. Does Tamara have the capability to do this extra task, work or project; or does she need additional training from someone within the RTO or externally? All of which takes time away from doing their current tasks.

3. If Tamara doesn't have the capacity and the capability to do this task, work, project; then do we have the finances to get additional resources to do this?

Usually the answer to all 3 questions is No so why then does it still get added to the list instead of being parked as a good idea that will be looked at again when (and if) we have the capacity, capability and/or finances to complete it?

The reason is people say the word Yes more than they say the word No.

So until we start to consider the price of saying yes to everything (and there's always a price), we will continue to add to the frustration and overwhelm of our valued team members who are craving more days of success rather than stress.

What's Next?
For all of these frustrations, I know some of you may wish to put the blame and responsibility on to the employee.

And that may be true IF you have provided them with all the tools and support for success.

BUT if you haven't done this and thus bv default have only added to their stress, then how can an employee be 'blamed' for not doing their job properly?

I found an image on social media which I believe sums up what staff are seeking from their leaders and workplaces.

On one side of the image, it said the 5 needs of humans at work are:
1. I matter
2. I belong
3. I'm enabled
4. I contribute
5. I'm respected
And the other side of the image said the 5 needs of the workplace are:
1. Purpose
2. Culture
3. Clarity
4. Recognition
5. Trust
So I'm wondering...
How many of these human and workplace needs are crystal clear at your RTO and are actively seen and heard in the words, actions, language and behaviour of you and your team?
Which ones need to be discussed, included, reviewed or enhanced?
And here's my final thought:

If you think you have a great team, then to make sure this is absolutely true, I challenge you to be brave and ask everyone in your team, individually, this crucial question:
In the last 12 months, have you wanted to leave?

If the answer is No, then congrats especially after what we've endured in the last two years.

If the answer is Yes, then I'm sorry but what invaluable information for a leader to now know.

And then this is the next question I'd ask the staff member – regardless of their response:


Remember: Questions give information so please keep asking great questions to get to the honest answers rather than running with assumptions and avoidance.

P.S. If you're looking for Professional Development which isn't about compliance, then please head to my website to check out my recorded webinars, my RTO GROW Program and my RTO Business Club.
Helping RTOs Build Great Businesses Everyone Actually Loves
Author: Tamara Simonο»Ώ

Tamara Simon is Australia's Only Dedicated RTO Business Coach who's driven to making your RTO life easier.

For over twenty years, she's been helping timepoor RTO Owners, CEOs and Managers get out of OVERWHELM so they can

- Get back in control and on track

- Grow their business... simply

- Reignite their passion for training

Find out more about Tamara Simon, her RTO Business Club, her RTO GROW Training Program and how she can take your RTO from Overwhelmed to Optimised here:


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