When you’ve been in the same management position for some time or you own your own company that you’ve been operating for years, you tend to forget just how much there was to learn along the way. Having carefully thought out and structured training for your new employees can go a long way to filling in the gaps, and covering the bases which might be obvious to you now, but could be utterly mystifying to a new recruit. Here are some tips and advice from the experts to help you train your new staff the right way, and let them reach their full potential.
Never throw them in at the deep end
Training takes time, and it’s all too easy to try and rush through everything quickly. Remember that a new employee doesn’t just have the necessary tasks and processes to learn, but they’re also probably a little overwhelmed at meeting new people, being in an unfamiliar environment and having to remember names and faces too. Start by giving them a tour of the facilities and working environment, making sure they have a little time to settle in. Make sure they know who they can go to if they’re confused about anything, especially when you’re not around.
Use the job description as your training outline
An employee’s job description is usually an excellent starting point when you’re trying to structure their training schedule, and can act as a handy checklist to make sure you’ve covered everything you need to. Isolate the most critical parts of their role, and make sure you cover these in detail – not just once, but with little refreshers along the way too. Allow them to take notes for later, as it’s impossible for them to absorb everything at once.
If it’s a role you’re going to have to train more staff to do in the future, then it’s a good idea to start compiling training documentation than can act as an easy reference for both you and new staff.
Never train outside of working hours
Giving your new employee homework or documentation to study outside of working hours is a surefire way to overwhelm them. Starting a new job is stressful, learning new things can be draining, and they’re going to need their down time to assimilate everything. If you’ve structured it correctly, there should never be a need to extend training time outside of operating hours.
Know when you need to call in an expert
Sometimes it’s not a new employee, but a new piece of machinery, new software or new regulations which prompt you to do training. When it comes to complex machinery or areas where healthy and safety is a concern, then you need to get in a professional to make sure training is done correctly. Occasions like buying a forklift for the warehouse, implementing new accounting or point of sale software, upgrading technical systems or any area where you’re out of your depth all call for outside help. Don’t risk your employees’ or customers’ safety by trying to do it yourself.
Never assume anything is obvious
It’s impossible to know for sure what areas you might be neglecting because you’ve done them a million times yourself and they seem obvious to you. Combat this by letting your trainee know this is the case, and that they should feel comfortable asking whatever questions they like, even if (and sometimes especially if) they seem silly. Never assume prior knowledge, but let the trainee’s feedback guide you on where more assistance might be needed.
Rope in other staff members
Some people just have a knack for passing knowledge on in a way that’s easily digested, or finding ways to paraphrase information so the meaning becomes clearer – and you almost certainly have some of them working for you already. Ask these individuals to keep an eye on the new recruit, especially when you’re not available. New employees can be a bit intimidated by you as the boss, but might feel more comfortable approaching another member of staff with questions they might find embarrassing.
Cater for different learning styles
Most people are visual learners, but don’t just assume this is the case with everyone. If at all possible, provide hands-on experiential training as well as relevant documentation and materials in as many formats as possible.
Use the opportunity to retrain older employees
Training a new employee is often a great opportunity to do refresher training with your older staff members too. If time permits, you could get the whole team to put together some formal training documentation that could go towards creating a permanent knowledge base for the future. It’s also a really nice opportunity to have an informal social hangout with some drinks or pizza at the end of the day!