October 22, 2014

Do You Have Training Processes in Place?

Whether you hire the occasional freelancer or have a full-time staff, your business needs training processes to ensure each employee knows his role. Many of us have found out the hard way that simply telling someone what to do isn’t enough; we need a program that includes written documents, shadowing and hands-on learning to properly help our staff maximize their potential.

training

Let’s Start With Training Documents

I’m to the point in my business that any time I have a set of tasks that can be duplicated, I write out a document detailing how to do the job. I keep them simple, and include steps. I link to resources my staff might find useful. For example, instructions on writing a blog post for a client might look like this:

1. Log into http://www.clientsite.com/wp-admin

Username: xyz
Password: 123

2. Click “Add New” on left sidebar.

3. Start writing post. Include:

  • Title
  • Body
  • Image in body
  • Photo source
  • All in One SEO Pack title, description, keywords

4. Choose the appropriate category.

5. Save as draft.

6. Ping Susan to review.

It’s simple, step-by-step directions that should be foolproof. If you’ve never taken the time to detail the steps for a given process, I encourage you to try it as an exercise. Assume the reader has no prior experience in the task, and break it down to the basics.

“Watch and Learn”

If you have the staff for it, have a new hire shadow someone who already does the job, or who has done it in the past. At this point, the new hire has already read your training materials and is now only watching how to do her new job. This is a great opportunity for her to ask questions during training, and to take notes. If you don’t have the staff, the training is up to you as the owner! Busy as you are, it’s important that you carve out time for training new staff to ensure they know how to do their jobs well.

Hands-On Learning

Once you’ve spent time on the shadowing process, you can loosen up the reins a bit on the new employee. Let them take over the tasks, with you or another employee watching and correcting. Gradually ease away and let them manage the tasks on their own.

Feedback on the Process

Everyone learns at a different pace, so be open to the fact that it might take longer for some. Schedule a meeting with your new hire a week or two after they’ve completed training to address any questions they have, and to gently guide them in the right direction. Training should be a collaboration, not just giving top-down orders. Let your new employee make the role their own. You never know: you just might learn something from them!


Training Photo via Shutterstock

9 Comments ▼

Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

9 Reactions

  1. I think this provides a good blueprint to follow for employee training. Of course, you make the point that hands-on training is just as important as documentation and shadowing, which I absolutely agree with. Businesses should stop holding employee’s hands ASAP, because the truth is that the vast majority of training will come through the trials that the employee takes on himself. Regardless of detail (and it seems very wise to provide a guide for any process that will be repeated), there will always be deviations from the plan.

  2. Very useful guidelines, not only for employees but when you plan to outsource functions as well. Small business owners (or solopreneurs) who don’t have staff to undertake the “Watch & Learn” process can do short videos of “how to”. That’s the beauty of technology these days.

  3. Susan, thanks for reminding us who run virtual teams about processes, as it can become complicated to implement one, especially when you’re dealing with culture differences and communication gap. Sometimes, you have to outline every task in details – not that you don’t trust the person you’ve hired to do his/her job well, but to make sure that everything flows seamlessly because mistakes can be costly and time-consuming. Now, there’s a thin line of course between giving specific instructions and micro-managing . I think that the Agile Process works well when it comes to complex projects.

    • Shaleen–
      Agile is great! I have found I can only blame myself when a virtual freelancer doesn’t get an assignment right. That’s why I do the tiny step by tiny step process!

      Susan

  4. Really good guide for handling new employees!
    Probably the right portion of guidance(through shadowing,documents…)
    and self engagement from the new employee can make new employee the productive and happy employee.

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