Want to keep your staff motivated about learning new concepts? The quality and variety of the employee training you provide is key for motivation. Reasons for employee training range from new-hire training about your operation, to introducing a new concept to a workgroup to bringing in a new computer system.
Whatever your reason for conducting an employee training session, you need to develop the employee training within the framework of a comprehensive, ongoing, and consistent employee training program. This quality employee training program is essential to keep your staff motivated about learning new concepts and your department profitable.
Essential Components of Employee Training Programs
A complete employee training program includes a formal new hire training program with an overview of the job expectations and performance skills needed to perform the job functions. A new hire training program provides a fundamental understanding of the position and how the position fits within the organizational structure.
The more background knowledge the new associate has about how one workgroup interrelates with ancillary departments, the more the new associate will understand his or her impact on the organization.
Another aspect of a comprehensive employee training program is continuing education. The most effective employee training programs make continuing education an ongoing responsibility of one person in the department. This is an important function that will keep all staff members current about policies, procedures and the technology used in the department.
New Hire Training
A solid new hire training program begins with the creation of an employee training manual, in either notebook format or online. This manual acts as a building block of practical and technical skills needed to prepare the new individual for his or her position.
In order for the department to understand current policies and procedures, a manager must ensure the department manuals or online employee training are kept current. This includes any system enhancements and / or change in policy or procedure. In addition, keep the user in mind when designing training manuals or online training; keep the employee training material interesting for the learner. Use language that is not "corporate" and include images and multi-media.
Much of this employee training and reference material belongs online these days in a company Intranet. But, if your organization is not ready to embrace the online world, keep the manuals up-to-date and interesting. When possible, in computer training, incorporate visual images of the computer screen (multi-media screen capture) to illustrate functions, examples, and how tos.
On the Job Training
Another form of new hire training includes having the new associate train directly next to an existing associate. Some call this On the Job Training (OJT) or side-by-side training. This type of employee training allows the new associate to see first hand the different facets of the position.
Also, OJT allows the new hire the opportunity to develop a working relationship with an existing associate. This type of employee training reinforces concepts learned in the initial training and should be used to reinforce and apply those same learned concepts.
Here are additional resources about new employee training and orientation.
- Employee Onboarding: One Chance for a Positive New Employee Experience.
- Tips for a Better New Employee Orientation.
- Employee Orientation: Keeping New Employees on Board.
- Orientation Vs. Integration.
Continuing Education in Employee Training
A continuing education program for a department is just as important as the new hire training. When training a new associate, I have found that they will only retain approximately 40 percent of the information learned in the initial training session. Therefore, a continuous effort must be placed on reminding the staff about various procedures and concepts. This continuing education can be formal or informal. (The author’s preference is always with a more informal approach.)
The formal, or traditional approach, to employee training often includes a member of management sending a memo to each associate. The informal, and often more appealing approach to a visual learner, is to send a one-page information sheet to staff. This information sheet, called a training alert, should be informative and presented in a non-threatening manner. Therefore, if the policy or procedure changes, the informal approach would better prepare the department to receive this presentation.
Prior to putting together a continuing education employee training program, the management team must decide upon their desired outcome. One question that is important to answer is, "Do you want the program to enhance the skills of the associate or do you want to help the associate with personal development?"
While there is some commonality between these answers, the main difference is the opportunity for the management team to mold future management team members. If the desired outcome is simply to enhance skills, with no personal development, the department will have a staff that simply knows how to do their job a little better. While that is a positive outcome, you want your company to think "outside the box," and design a program that allows, and even encourages, critical thinking and problem solving.
Therefore, when designing a continuing education program, the desired outcome should be a blending of both technical and personal enhancement. This type of training program will allow the staff the opportunity to develop solid management skills, coupled with a better understanding of their position and function, and how that fits into the relationship of the organization.
For example, if you discover during the assessment process that writing skills in the department are low, you will need to enhance those skills by developing a corresponding training session.
Blend Technical Training With Personal Development
This writing training session could include topics on the basics of writing, such as spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and correct word use. Building on those basics, you could give your participants an applicable topic, such as writing a letter to a customer apologizing for a late shipment.
Provide the participants background information about the customer. Tell them the customer has purchased from them for ten years and has always made payments promptly. Give them ten or fifteen minutes to compose a rough draft and have them present their letter to the group. Once someone has read a letter, ask the other participants to offer feedback for improvements, and as the trainer, point out the positive aspects of the letter.
Another mechanism that will help with ongoing continuing education is to enable staff members to develop an affiliation with an association or industry group. This type of education is tangible and has been proven to have a positive track record with the local offices and their industry trade groups. Staff members are given the opportunity to come together periodically, and discuss the issues they are experiencing in their business.
This is a positive experience for everyone involved because the information gained in this type of setting can prove useful to others who may have the potential to partake in a similar situation. Also, others who have experienced a similar situation have the opportunity to talk about their resolution(s) that worked effectively.