As your business expands, you’ll need to take on more employees. This means you have to tackle staff training and development, which can seem complicated and hard to figure out. Taking care of these important tasks is every bit as vital to your business as good business insurance. Creating a great staff training program is a challenge, but with some preparation and these staff training ideas, you can succeed.
Why Employee Training and Development Matter
Many small businesses see employee training and development as an expense, something that takes them away from the day to day tasks of running a business. That's easy to understand, since as a business owner, you are already busy. The trouble is that this can make you resent your new hire. Instead, try to view employee training as an investment. A good small business employee training and development program produces employees who understand and care about your business. This brings lower staff turnover, higher employee performance and a more resilient company.
6 Tips for Training Employees: Before, During and After
1) Begin before day one
It’s important to lay the groundwork for successful staff training. Before you hire a new employee, be absolutely honest about what the role includes and write a detailed job description that makes it clear what you expect from your employees. That way, when you begin employee training, your new hire already knows exactly what you expect them to do in their new role.
2) Plan the best employee training approach for your business
No two businesses are exactly alike, so no one can tell you exactly how to train your new employees. Choose the best method for training your new employee.
For example, if you’re hiring customer service staff, you might want to use role playing to prepare them for situations that come up frequently. If you’re training a junior electrician, it’s better to supervise them using the manual skills that you want to see. For hands-on roles like a plumber or a carpenter, follow the rule of ‘watch one, do one, teach one.’ That means you show your employee how to do a task, then watch while he does it himself, then have him teach you (or another staff member) how to do it.
3) Be very clear about expectations
Be specific about your employee’s responsibilities. For example, if you pride yourself on replying to clients within one hour, give that precise time frame instead of saying ‘make sure to respond to clients quickly.’ Outlining specific obligations is a vital step to successful training.
Don’t forget to set clear goals for your training program. If you don’t know exactly what your employee should be able to do by day five, you can’t expect your new hire to know it either.
4) Make training a team effort
Staff training means more than just checking that the new employee knows how to use a computer. In a business, you work as a team. You all need to be able to get along well together, so allow time for introductions and find ways for your new team to get to know each other.
You can also encourage team members to help each other out and make it clear that you expect everyone to help when you bring in a new person.
5) Give and take feedback
Your new staff members won’t know how they’re doing unless you tell them. Congratulate them when they get it right and give constructive criticism when they miss the mark. But don’t be too critical. Remember that constructive criticism has to be just that - constructive.
Employee training is a two-way street, so listen to feedback from your new hire. Perhaps some part of your staff training program isn’t clear enough, or they spotted a faster way to do things that you hadn’t considered. Allow time in the training process for your new employee to ask questions and make suggestions.
6) Employee training isn’t a one-off experience
Training your staff is an ongoing process that continues after the first few days of introduction. Be prepared to check in with your new staff member after the first month, first few months and the first year, both to review their performance and to check that they aren’t still confused about some aspects of their job.