Start by creating a comprehensive training system for your new and existing employees.
If you don't have a training program in place, it's time to start one. Haphazardly training new employees usually results in each person starting with a different level of understanding of their role and knowledge of the company. This creates nothing but confusion and inefficiencies.
A strong training program will:
Your training program sets the tone for each person's employment with your business. It is their first impression of your company, the systems within it, the leaders who run it, the organization level, and the performance standards expected. If you give the impression that the company is sloppily run, then your new employee will think that sloppy work is accepted.
A clear system or 'curriculum' for new employee training not only results in stronger employees, but also makes your job easier. The subjects and skills that each employee is expected to learn are clearly outlined, and nearly anyone in your office can pick up the training manual and get started.
A strong training program will also help you keep employees, and reduce turnover. The cost of hiring and training staff members can be high, and you want to maximize that investment by keeping employees happy and learning throughout their employment.
Here is how to create a training system for new employees.
1. Design your training system by asking yourself (and answering!) the following questions:
What is the knowledge level of the new employee?
Decide what you are going to cover in the training program with awareness of the new employee's prior knowledge and skills. If you are not sure on some areas, ask them, or plan to "review" key skills and understanding.
Who will be doing the training?
Choose who will lead the new employee's training, and who are the people who will assist. These people need to be qualified and experienced enough to cover the each section of the training. For example, administrative staff should not be charged with training an employee on the sales floor; instead, a sales staff member should handle training for that specific period. Make it clear who is responsible for what information.
What materials do you need to train new employees properly?
Make a list of the materials you need to cover and give to the employee. If you have reference material, make sure it's handy. Anything that will contribute to the training process should be accessible: company manuals, industry reference materials, product knowledge binders, work samples, etc.
What tools do you need for the new employee?
Gather the tools your new employee will need to perform their role, and assemble it where the training will be held. Stock their workstation with the supplies they'll need to be successful, like software, technological equipment, and role-specific materials. A lot of training time can be wasted looking for key items.
How much time will training take?
Decide how much time it will take your new employee to learn and become comfortable with the new role. Include time for questions and feedback, and be generous with the time you allot to each task or section of training. Avoid rushing the training process, since it will cost you time and money later on.
How will you test or check to make sure the training is working?
Provide 'checkpoints' or tests within the training material to confirm that the employee understands and is comfortable with the topics covered. These don't have to be formal tests, but could be small, job-related tasks performed on their own using the skills taught in the training program.
How will you incorporate the company's big picture into the training program?
Explain to every new employee how their role fits into the overall structure of your business, and how their work impacts the performance of the business. Show them where they can go for information about the company, as well as other departments, if applicable.
What opportunities will the trainee have for feedback and clarification?
While it may be assumed that the trainee can ask questions at any time, be sure to build opportunities for clarification into the training process. Also, make it clear to the trainee that questions and feedback are welcome at any time, not just during the training process.
2. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings between staff and managers to evaluate performance and identify areas for development.
As part of their ongoing training, hold an individual meeting with each staff member at least twice a year to review their performance, gather feedback on the business, and identify opportunities for growth and development.
Conduct these meetings one-on-one, or two-on-one, with the staff member, yourself, and their immediate supervisor (if they have one). When held regularly, these meetings become an important opportunity for communication between staff and management, and encourage honest and open dialogue.
Create an agenda that everyone in the meeting can follow, and be sure to include the following items:
3. Create a human resources system to organize each of your employees training and professional development.
If you have several employees, it is wise to create a human resources system for organizing and managing information about each of your staff and their performance in your company. In a filing system, keep a folder for each one of your staff members, and use it to store information about their employment with your company in a centralized place.
Remember that these aren't designed to be "secret dossiers" full of incriminating information, it's a convenient way to record and monitor the performance and development of each of your team members.
In your employee's human resource folder, keep documents like:
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