How To Train Your Newbie

I’m sure that most managers can agree that giving thorough training to new employees is critical but where they might differ is in the methodology used to implement that training. While some companies prefer to implement rigorous training programs, others have new hires simply shadow existing employees (unfortunately, a Rocky-style training montage isn’t an option for most organizations). But, regardless of the methods employed, training for a technical position requires a great deal of learning over a long time period. There are several things I believe can help improve the learning process, so I’ve compiled a short list of the things that especially benefited me during my ramp-up period at Algonquin Studios. Take a look to see if they can help you get the most out of the time training your new employees, as well:

Encourage The Writing And Use Of Documentation

Most companies have a detailed knowledge base available. Not only are these articles great for assisting customers with issues, they also provide a great tool to beginners.  Seeking answers to their questions from other employees is a good thing, but finding the answer themselves by doing some knowledge base research might be even better. New employees should also be encouraged to write their own articles, as the things they write will stick with them better than things they simply read through. If they have a question that isn’t explained in any existing documentation, it’s probably a good idea for them to write it up!

Teach In The Way That Works Best For The Employee

Some people, myself included, are visual learners. It’s much easier for me to grasp a new concept by viewing diagrams and reading instructions than it is for me to absorb verbal directions from a teacher. Talk to your new employee and find out how they prefer to learn;  while it’s important to be flexible and able to learn in multiple ways, it’s also important to provide people with an efficient and effective way to teach learn new concepts.

Offer Help, Even If They Haven’t Asked For It

Being the new person at a job can be stressful and stress might cause them to be hesitant to ask for help when they need it. Regularly check in and offer to help them, either by explaining something they don’t understand or reinforcing their training with some helpful examples or advice. The voice of experience from a willing and generous teacher can foster increased confidence in newbies.

Make Sure They Don’t Get “Too Comfortable”

This can sound a bit harsh but people learn new skills the fastest when they don’t become complacent. While it’s never good to completely overwhelm someone and cause them to break down from the stress, a little fire under them will keep them moving in the right direction. Gauge their progress, making sure that when they become familiar with basic tasks they’re assigned more advanced ones quickly.

Give Criticism When Warranted

It can definitely be tough to hand out criticism but it’s crucial to making sure first-time mistakes don’t become permanent habits. Remember that the point of constructive criticism isn’t to demean and punish, so it should always be done with respect. While it was never fun for me to be told where my work could use improvement, it gave me a clear goal of what was expected of me and I am better today for it.

And on the opposite side of that…

Recognize When They’re Doing a Great Job

Everyone wants to feel as if they are succeeding; positive reinforcement can go a long way towards motivating people to continue learning. Not only does this keep spirits high, it helps create a comfortable working environment and friendly company culture. Make sure your new employees know when they’re getting it right!

How does the on-boarding/training process work at your company? What are the similarities between my list and yours? Feel free to leave a comment below with any great new employee training ideas you use!

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