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!

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