It never ceases to amaze me how poorly put together most company’s training programs are for new employees. Haphazard and unprepared seem to be the themes of the times when it comes to training new employees. The fact of the matter is, many problems that come up with new employees can be avoided by a good training system because often the things that turn into performance issues can be traced back to how the person was trained.
When setting up a system to train employees there are some things that you want to do.
1. Have the person who does each job write a handbook for their position that details how to do everything they do on their job. This is a good project for those times when there may not be enough work. But even if your employees have enough to do, making the project of writing a handbook a priority will benefit everyone, including your current employees.
Having each employee write the handbook for their job does a couple of things for you as an employer. It helps your employees define for themselves exactly what their job duties are. It also makes it easier on an employee who may be covering for another employee by providing them with instructions for how to do key components of the absent employee’s job. And finally, it gives the new employee who is taking over a position a frame of reference as to what their job duties are going to be, as well as gives them a place to go and have any questions answered if there is no supervisor available to help them.
2. If you are hiring for a new position that has just opened, have the person who will be training the new employee write a handbook for the position prior to the new person being hired. Once the new employee has been there for six months or more, they can work with person that trained them to flesh out any parts of the handbook that need to be revised, and make any additions that were not previously thought of prior to the job being created.
3. Have only one person at a time doing training with the new employee. There is nothing more confusing than having two or three people talking to a new employee and training them at the same time. It is difficult enough to assimilate new information without having more than one person giving their input as to how to do the job. Your new employee will have a greater chance of success if you have them work with one person at a time.
4. Make sure that everyone is trained to do the job in the same way. This can be a real problem, if the trainers have all been trained with different information or different ways of doing things because the new employee may get confused. The way to avoid this is to train everyone the same way initially, and then if employees figure out a better way of doing things that is fine. But have the initial information being given be the same from each trainer so that it is consistent until the new employee is comfortable with doing it one way. I’m not suggesting that new ways shouldn’t be implemented, or that free thinking shouldn’t be encouraged, it should, just not until after employees are trained and have been working for a while.
5. Have several real world examples for each working situation. The worst thing in the world when you are a new employee is to be shown examples of how to do something that have nothing to do with what you are doing on the job. So, make sure you have two or three examples of situations and how to handle each one so that the new employee has a good idea of what is expected of them.
6. Give a new employee enough time to assimilate the information they receive in training. Time and time again I’ve seen employers and or trainers “train” an employee and then refuse to be available should the employee have questions. I’ve seen it happen after a week or two, and a month or two. Remember that a person must be exposed to a new concept several times before it actually sticks. That’s why the old saying “practice makes perfect” is so true. So, give your new employees several months to assimilate all the new information before cutting them completely loose, and be available should they have questions.
7. Have regular meetings with new employees to see how they are doing, and if they have any questions or ideas regarding their job. Many companies claim they have regular meetings with new and existing employees to discuss their position and performance, but they often don’t. Once a year is not enough, monthly and or quarterly is better and will help to facilitate good communication between employers, trainers, and employees both new and existing.
8. Have an employee handbook that is complete and current. There is nothing worse than having an employee handbook that no one uses and or that has outdated information. New employees look to the employee handbook to find out company policy on different issues such as performance, sexual harassment, and paid for holidays. The information in the employee handbook needs to be current, up to date, and followed by everyone. The handbook gives new employees a framework to follow for the company culture also. It is also a great place to lay out the information in the previous seven information blocks in this article so that it is clear to the entire company.
While there are other things an employer can do to facilitate a work environment that allows new employees to succeed, these are the main actions that should be taken. It is difficult enough for a new employee to find their place, why not make it easier by implementing these suggestions?