While employee orientation involves organizational information and expectations, employee training focuses on the acquisition of specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes. All new hires are not created equal, and a good training program can even out the differences significantly.
The problems that can potentially arise from lack of training, or from poor training, are numerous and serious:
- Low productivity
- Mistakes (often costly)
- Poor morale
- Employee grievances
- High waste
- Customer complaints
- Lost revenue
Properly trained employees deliver better service, are usually happier in their jobs, and are more motivated to accept new challenges and information (because they don’t feel overwhelmed).
Not only is training great for business, it’s also great for employees and employers —everyone is happier and more productive. As with most management concepts, training is most effective when it’s approached holistically and as a process—a series of steps designed to improve employee performance. Training should not be viewed as a cost either in time or money: it is one of the most important investments business managers can make because it dramatically increases the value of your key asset—your staff.
Understand the training process
The following steps outline a model training process:
- Review the job description and set training objectives.
- Select the trainees.
- Create a training plan.
- Determine the training methods and mode.
- Identify competent trainers.
- Choose a means of evaluating if your training was successful.
- Deliver the training.
- Evaluate the training.
It is important to document the training upon completion and to place notes in each employee’s file including what topics where covered, when, where, and how the employee was trained. You might also include the employee’s own evaluation of the training (if not anonymous or confidential) or other document demonstrating what the employee learned.
Use excellent trainers
Who actually conducts the training depends on the type of training needed and who will receive it. On-the-job training is typically conducted by supervisors or senior staff members. Off-the-job training can be conducted either by in-house personnel or outside instructors.
In-house training is the daily responsibility of supervisors and senior employees. Supervisors are ultimately responsible for the productivity and, therefore, the training of their subordinates. These supervisors should be taught the techniques of good training. They must be aware of the knowledge and skills necessary to make a productive employee. This information can be found in both the job analysis and the job description.
Trainers should be taught to establish goals and objectives for their training and to determine how these objectives can be used to influence the productivity of their departments. They also must be aware of how adults learn and how best to communicate with adults. Small businesses may need to develop their supervisors’ training capabilities by sending them to courses on training methods. The investment will pay off in increased productivity.
Train to the job description
Employee training isn’t always straightforward, particularly from the perspective of the employee. Employees don’t always make the connection between training and improved job performance. Using a job description as a base for training programs highlights the focus on job performance and ensures relevant training content.
Use employee training manuals
Most personnel problems are actually created by systems, procedures, and/or training problems. When job descriptions, procedure manuals, and adequate training are in place, many issues disappear.
As noted in previous sections, it all starts with planning, job analysis, and job descriptions for every employee. Comprehensive job descriptions break down duties, roles, and responsibilities into logical tasks. With those in place, you can then determine how to impart necessary information and instructions for each task employees need to master. Training manuals serve double duty as checklists for performance evaluations.