How to Train New Employees

Yesterday I talked about how learning to create creates passion. Today I want to switch around and talk a little about how we learn on the job.

I believe in lifelong learning. I think we should be constantly studying and improving. I think that gives us a lot of satisfaction in this life. Too many people get lazy and complacent and then wonder why they don’t like their job anymore. Everyone varies by different degrees, but I think everyone feels more alive when they are faced with a challenge that they can conquer.

Schools and businesses seem to do a good job with “on-going” training. There is also a certain amount of expectation for the employee to keep up with training and learning as well.

Where businesses fail miserably is in training new employees.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this is the case. It’s almost like businesses just want to throw people into the deep end and see who sinks or swims.

There is another way…

For years I looked at how people were training me and learned from them. Both the good and the bad, and I distinguished between the two. I also have had the chance to train a number of my own employees. This is what I have learned…

  1. There is a process that new employees must follow to become “fully operational.”
  2. The process, at a base level, looks like this: “Let them observe you doing the work, let them practice doing the actual work with you there to help them, get them to answer their own questions, have them do the work and correct their own mistakes with your observation, and only let them go when they have reached a certain proficiency level AND a certain confidence level.”
  3. Always provide constructive feedback, especially in the beginning. New employees yearn for constant communication.
  4. Always be encouraging. You hired them. Show them that you believe in them.
  5. Reward good results and give consequences to bad results. Although easier said then done, this is something management needs to constantly learn how to do for the sake of all employees.

These are five foundational points to consider when training someone. We as managers often forget the psychological aspect of training and performance at work. Not many people “just do their jobs.”

For this reason we need to practice a different skill set as managers and trainers. We need to learn what motivates performance at work. We need to learn more about feedback cycles and how teams really perform. There are so many other management topics to consider that there will actually be another series on that subject. ;-)

But I digress…

The important thing to remember is that you have to hold an employees hand until they are ready to let go. It’s the same as teaching a child to ride a bike. It takes patience and encouragement.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying to treat employees as children. They will resent you if you do that. I am saying that you have to be wise enough to know when they need your help and when they don’t. Just remember, all new employees need your help. Even if they are more proficient at their given job then you are, they still need to learn the company policy, procedures, and most importantly, the company culture. (Again, a topic for another time)

Learn to be a good coach.

That is the best analogy I can use about training employees. People who have played team sports often make better employees because they know how to train hard to win a game. It’s the same with business. Your out to win! And everyone wants to be on a winning team!

I can’t remember who said it, but the other day I heard this saying. “Players play, and coaches coach.” Just know your role. Play hard if you are a player and don’t try to coach. Learn to be a great coach if you are a coach and don’t try to play the game for your players. Don’t do their job for them.

Build up a strong relationship in the beginning. Keep the lines of communication open. Keep encouraging them. When you do all that you should find a situation where that new employee is motivated to work and will come to you to ask for help when they need it…

This week is dedicated to talking about education. The goal is to get people thinking about education and to create a discussion about how we can improve it. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section and also subcribe using the link below so you won’t miss a thing. ;-)

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3 Comments

  1. Barbara Swafford January 15, 2009 at 2:34 am #

    Hi Jeremy – These two sentences say it all. “Keep the lines of communication open. Keep encouraging them.” Employees love to be heard but more than that, they love to hear encouraging words. It’s amazing how much more productivity can be gotten when we encourage others to do their best. If they know we believe in them, they’ll often even surprise themselves.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..When Non-Blogger Friends Don’t Get It

  2. Michele January 15, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Awesome information, Jeremy! I gave it a stumble. :-)

    Ya know, I’m so thankful I’ve always had wonderful experiences when I was being trained and/or training others. Nope, I’m not perfect. Yes, there was one occasion where no matter what I did I couldn’t please the middle manager who was over me and there was one more occasion where someone I was training simply wanted to cause trouble. I’m a very easy going kind of gal and always try to respect others and make them feel comfy. I’ve always said that I’ve had great bosses at the various jobs I’ve had over the years. Folks usually tell me it’s ’cause I was a good employee – works both ways! A positive attitude rubs off, eh? :-)

    *smiles*
    Michele

    Michele’s last blog post..News: Top Health Blogger

  3. Coal Mine Training February 24, 2009 at 1:57 am #

    successfully train employees and be trained and learn from someone who has more knowledge of something than we do. great site!! interesting!!

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