It is usually an exciting time when you hire a new employee. It usually means the business is growing and needs more staff to keep things on track or an employee has quit/been fired that just didn’t fit in the organization. However, I have seen this over and over – the new employee is either not properly trained (thrown in the deep end of the pool) or trained by shadowing the business’ super star employee. Both of these are not what you want – and I hope this lesson will show you a better way.
Before I get to that “better way” let me explain why I feel asking a super star employee to train an employee only hurts the business. As explained above when a new employee is hired there is usually a position to be filled – one that has been there for a while or a new position. Unless the new employee is extremely experienced with your type of business then they will need considerable training. It makes sense to put the new employee with the most experienced employee but this only slows down that employee – and the overall workflow. And this is when you need the workflow to be running the smoothest and without any hold ups. There is a better way, regardless if you are hiring a painter, receptionist, cashier, or bookkeeper. I will explain it with four easy to follow steps. Step #1 – Either you (the business owner) or the department manager should take a few minutes away from the business and make a list of everything that you will want this new employee to learn and ultimately do. Do this by thinking about the position not the employee. The best way I have found to do this is to grab a legal pad and pen / or laptop, drive down to my favorite coffee shop, order a cup of Joe and find a quiet table in the corner somewhere. Then start writing my list as fast as I can, not concerning myself with how these tasks will be done. Step #2 – Prioritize your list into four different groups. Group one is what you want the new employee to learn and do first, group two is what you want the new employee to learn and do second, you see where I am going. Step #3 – These four groups are actually weeks – the first group will be given to the new employee his/her first day on the job, the second group will be given out the second week, etc. Step #4 – When the first group of tasks/duties are given to the new employee you will need to explain two things. One, who at the business they can go to for an explanation as to how to do these things (spreading it around to as many employees as possible). The second thing to explain is that the new employee will have all week to learn each and every task/duty on the list. Then explain that on Friday they must teach you or the department manager. This will assure that the employee is “really” learning (or mastering) the right things, and you will know it. The best way to solidify that you have learned something is to teach it. What you will find if you follow these simple but yet effective steps is that the employee is well trained, trained really well in just four weeks. And you didn’t slow down the overall business’ workflow during those four weeks by having this new employee shadow your super star employee. Now… if you are like many of my clients that I have explained this to you are probably thinking, “That’s it? That is just too simple to work.” Well, all I can say is try it. Prove it. I think you will be surprised just how well it works. Note: it also works just as well for current employees that have worked for you for some time.