5 Guidelines for Training New Employees

I’m six weeks into a (temporary) job that I found on Craigslist and find myself in awe at the staggering lack of procedures and guidelines this company has for training new employees. I trained a lot of people over nine years at Fujifilm North America, so I set my own expectations for how I think employees should be trained, although they were sometimes hard to meet because of management.

For the first two weeks at this new place, I had nothing to do for the first thirty minutes of my shift simply because no one would tell me what I should be doing. They also started training me in a new area, but keep pulling me away to help out elsewhere, so my training has been inconsistent. I decided I’d share a few of the guidelines I created for myself when I was training other people.

  1. Make sure your trainee knows what’s expected of them. Give them a list of things they’ll be learning, and what they should be doing for at least the first day, even if it’s just watching someone. It’s quite frustrating for a trainee to be standing around not sure of what to do. If you have a designated trainer (and you should) set expectations for them on what you expect the trainee to learn for the first two weeks.
  2. Make sure they have the materials and equipment to do their job. This applies to all employees. Along with guideline number one it’s talked about in First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, a fantastic book about employee engagement by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. Not having something that you need, even a pen, can be as frustrating as not knowing what to do.
  3. Provide a dedicated trainer.Having one person train your new employee helps to eliminate confusion and gives consistency. Make sure your trainer is spending time with the trainee and not using the extra body as a way to take a break from work. Training is tedious, but it’s important that someone be there to troubleshoot issues and answer questions. It also helps to have someone build a rapport with new employees to make them feel welcome in a new place.
  4. Provide feedback. If I don’t receive any feedback, I assume I’m doing a great job. A great trainer I had once told me: “If you have a problem and you don’t tell me, it’s your problem. If you have a problem and you tell me, it becomes our problem.” Feedback can be positive or negative as long as it’s constructive and the employee can learn from it.
  5. Be patient. Don’t expect someone to learn the job in a day. Even if it’s a simple job, people learn at different speeds. Allow for differences in personality and learning ability. Be realistic in your expectations. Focus on accuracy first, and productivity will naturally increase as well.

Have any horror stories about being a trainer or trainee? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about it!


Blizzard Entertainment asked me to write a press release when I was applying for a position with their offices near Paris, France. I was reading Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series at the time, and I thought his world would make a great game.


Blizzard Entertainmentprepares to redefine online role-playing with Furycraft, a game based on Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series.

IRVINE, Calif. – November 27, 2010 – Blizzard Entertainment®, Inc. announced today that it is teaming with fantasy writer Jim Butcher to release a new online game worldwide next spring based on his best-selling Codex Alera series. Furycraft is an online role-playing game based in the fictional world of Carna, where descendents of the lost Ninth Roman Legion control powerful elemental forces called furies in the nation of Alera.

Players harness the furies of water, earth, wood, fire, air, and metal to craft the elements to do their bidding. Characters use their furies to give them incredible strength and speed, control the weather, fly, heal wounds, and even influence people and animals. Fight as a Knight of the Realm in the Legions, or defend steadholts from marauding hordes of other races, including the wolf-like Canim, the Icemen of the north, the savage Marat, or the insect-like Vord. Scheme and plot through the world of politics and intrigue in the ballrooms and Senate halls in the capital city of Alera Imperia.

Furycraft allows players to be immersed in the rich world of the Codex Alera series,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re happy to provide a gaming experience that remains faithful to Jim’s vision.”

Furycraft builds on the massively multiplayer online role-playing game engine that World of Warcraft® users experience all over the world. Players may join forces to perform feats of furycrafting that one character couldn’t manage on their own. Work together to build and improve steadholts in rural lands, or form cohorts that fight together in Alera’s Legions. Players can also participate in solo quests to increase their furycrafting power, or to call more powerful furies to them. Use furycrafted causeways to travel across Alera in a fraction of the time it would take to travel on a normal road, or fly on coaches carried by Knights Aeris. Buy, sell, or trade goods and services in real-time marketplaces.

Furycraft will be released in multiple languages. Release timing and details such as system specifications and pricing will be announced at a later date. For more information, please visit the official website at http://www.furycraft.com.

About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft® and the Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® franchises, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment’s track record includes thirteen #1-selling games and multiple Game of the Year awards. The company’s online-gaming service, Battle.net®, is one of the largest in the world, with millions of active players.

Pangaea Organica

Here’s a producer profile I created for People’s Food Co-op in Portland, Oregon last year. Founder Rick Riehle showed me how they roast their beans and made me a delicious cup of French press coffee. No cream or sugar needed!

Pangaea Organica, an artisan roaster of organic fair trade coffee, operates in a commercially zoned live/work space in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. A consumer cooperative with four member-owners founded in November 2006, Pangaea imports their organic green coffee beans only from fair trade certified cooperatives, including Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, the Ethiopian company featured in the 2006 documentary Black Gold. Pangaea also sources beans from Brazil, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, and Sumatra. Green coffee beans are roasted in a vertical stream of hot air, which distributes the heat evenly throughout the bean preventing scorching and the development of bitter flavors. A vent over the roasting chamber vacuums away the chaff, the thin outer membrane of the coffee bean; in other roasting methods the chaff turns to ash as the beans heat, introducing unwanted flavors into the final roast. A fine water spray followed by air-cooling prevents the beans from over-roasting. Pangaea also provides equipment, repair, and consulting; home roasters can purchase green beans from their website.

The Board of Trustees for Pangaea is composed of two classes of members: voting members and advisory members. Voting members are employee-members of the company who exercise votes. Advisory members are non-employee-members of the company. The employee-members of the company, via instant runoff election, elect both classes of members of the Board of Trustees.  Pangaea uses Policy Governance at the board level. “Cooperatives tend to operate with a social conscience as a consequence of several factors,” states founder and president Rick Riehle, “they eliminate investors who have no other interest in the company other than investment returns, they align the interests of their constituents, and they operate from a paradigm of multiple bottom lines.” Pangaea believes in a triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. Its primary purpose is service, not profit. “We’ve gone one step simpler than a mission statement,” says Rick, “Organic, Fair Trade, Cooperative.” Their core philosophy can be distilled even further in the meaning of their name, Pangaea: entire earth.

Pangaea Organica

2311 N 45th St. #325

Seattle, WA 98103



Portland Musician’s Music Videos

I like keeping things local, so here’s a few music videos I enjoy from some good Portland musicians. The Slants video for “You Make Me Alive” is shameless self-promotion because I directed it, but it’s also a great song from a fantastic local band.

I’ve been friends with Painted Grey singer/songwriter Caleb Roloff for over a year now. This is the music video for “Falling” from their latest album “Away With Words.” It has some great scenery from the Oregon coast.

I saw Christian Burghardt perform at the Doug Fir with Painted Grey. They’re fantastic live, and this music video is well done. I love the colors and the contrast.


Create Karaoke Titles in Final Cut Pro X

I needed to make animated karaoke titles for “You Make Me Alive,” the music video I directed for Portland-based dance rock band The Slants. Apparently there are several programs specifically for titling karaoke videos, but the Mac options aren’t great, and I wanted a solution in Final Cut Pro X, but I couldn’t find a tutorial. It turned out to be pretty simple.

  1. Use the custom text preset to create a line of text with the color and position that you want.
  2. In the video properties dialog for the text, add a shape mask, change the shape to a rectangle, and reduce the falloff.
  3. Go to your beginning frame, add a keyframe, and position the center of the mask to the left of the text, and pull the right edge of the mask so it’s on the left side of the text as well.
  4. Go to the end frame, add a keyframe, and position the right edge of the mask so it covers the text.
  5. Select a color for your mask. I made mine purple.

Playback and you should have a simple color-changing title. This way is a bit tedious for a whole video, but I only had to do a few sections of, so it was worth it. You’ll have to tweak the keyframes if you want the animation to speed up or slow down.