In an ideal world, the people we hire would arrive the first day on the job and we would download everything they need to know through a USB cable in the back of the head! Training downloaded! This however is not the case and as we are all well aware there is a need for deliberate, strategic equipping to get our employees performing effectively, quickly.
"Over 70% of people leave their jobs because of the way they are led." - Norman Drummond
Sadly, many employees are trained by fire. They find themselves often under equipped and resourced to meet the requirements of the job - the truly innovative ones will stumble through to glean, pick-up and find the answers and tools they need but this is inefficient and very hard on employee moral and confidence. Many competent, qualified people find themselves discouraged, needlessly over-whelmed while employers scratch their heads wondering about their hiring procedures and if they in fact hired the right person for the job. The truth is, for many of today's jobs - 'sink or swim' is not an effective, efficient or profitable training strategy!
There is a 450 year old company who understood this well. The Jesuits, a Catholic order, were founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola and have been involved in a wide range of activities which include: education (universities, schools for the poor), map making, governmental advisers, advocates for social justice and a myriad of other things. One of the keys to their innovation, longevity and great success is their conviction that the development of a leader must take priority over the need to be filled. They understood poorly trained leaders will lead poorly. The Jesuits understand that the time invested in equipping your people to do the job well will in the long run improve significantly the success of the leader and the successful satisfaction of the need / task. They discovered when their people were not adequately equipped the turn over rate was higher, the job was often not done well and always at a greater cost.
As employers and leaders who are sincere about being successful and profitable, it is imperative we look at the way we train our employees and a few deliberate things can make the difference for your new hire and your company.
- Have a Training Plan - Failure to plan is planning to fail, likewise failure to adequately train is planning to fail! A strategic, comprehensive training plan will go a long way to contributing to your new employees success and yours. This plan should be accessible and implementable by the new hires supervisor and other employees in the department. Along with the practical nuts and bolts of the job, training in navigating expense / travel reports, sales tracking / reporting, client reports, client scheduling scheduling and the "how" the goods and or services are delivered - you get the idea.
- Don't take it for granted - You may be very familiar with the job and what needs to be done. It is often easy to take certain things for granted, like a policy, a procedure - what has become second nature to us - almost automatic may not be all that apparent to the new employee. These types of things which seem most obvious are especially important to include in our training program. Don't assume your new hire knows what you know!
- Implement the plan - The best plan in the entire world is rendered useless if it isn't utilized. Develop the training plan, implement the training plan, and evaluate and adjust the plan as required.
- Identify the Learning Style - Plan for training material to be presented for a variety of different learning styles. Discern the learning style of your new hire and present the same training plan content in ways that are most conducive to the employees learning style. This should also be practical as well - consider the practical realities of the information being transferred.
- Effective Mentors / Coaches - It may be you who is directly responsible for training the new employee and this places you in the important role of coach. It is a coaches job to come alongside a person with skills and aptitudes and help them develop those skills within the frame work of a given structure or organization. A coach instructs, trains and encourages through the process. The coach also provides accountability and challenge while also providing the needed affirmation and healthy feedback to meet the needs of the new employee. Some people need more feedback and affirmation than others - this doesn't mean they are weaker or less talented, just different.
- Evaluate - It is important to be able to assess the training progress of your new employee. There are a variety of ways to do this; administer key competency tests or more causally by either asking verbal questions or critically observing / evaluating their work. However you choose to do so, it is important that you are deliberate to evaluate their progress to better understand the continued training needs of the employee.
- Communicate - Providing feedback is crucial for healthy employee development. This communication should include more affirmation (if possible) and encouragement than correction. When you do correct make sure you provide the needed tools or practical suggestions that the employee can utilize to address the deficiency. In the beginning, communication needs to be fairly often. As the employee begins to demonstrate independent competency this communication can be less frequent. For example - to start every two weeks, then perhaps every six weeks, then quarterly.
Remember communication is a two way street! Pay attention to the feedback from your new hire and their felt training needs!
There are no short cuts for training new employees well. Quality training will go a long way to ensure you get the most from your investment in talent and labor and in the end better performance and profitability. It also goes a long way to help your new employees integration and positive experience - this too pays dividends!