On-the-job training: Three tips to doing it right

On-the-job training is the most cost effective way to bring on new staff

Have you ever hired someone who looked really good on paper, you start them in the position and months later you do not see the results you were expecting? It may not be the employee’s fault.

On-the-job training is the most cost effective way to bring on new staff. Often companies use this practice when they do not have the budget for a staff trainer or outside consultant. Training your people effectively is crucial for retention, employee morale and to make sure your company is being represented appropriately. The most effective way to develop a new employee is having a dedicated training department, but if you don’t there are still ways you can use on-the-job training for successful on-boarding. Here are three tips to set your company up for success for on-the-job training:

Develop an Example of a Job Well Done

Have clear perimeters of employee expectations. This guides your employee in the right direction. When you have performance expectations it gives them a roadmap to success. Clear policies, processes and procedures, in addition to a handbook, give your employees resources in case they don’t run into a specific situation while training on the job. It also helps for you to create checklists when having them “job shadow” someone in the current position.

These checklists will ensure your employees are given all of the important information even if the information is missed during their job shadow. There should be checklists created for all tasks that could negatively affect your company if done incorrectly. These checklists also make the trainer’s job easier, creating clear boundaries and expectations. Make sure to include customer interactions, production, internal processes, safety procedures and employee policies in your systems checklist, and review the process often.

Select the Best Trainer and Assessment

Once the checklists and performance expectations are created it is important that the trainer has a clear understanding of the training objective. Current employees can easily develop bad habits or shortcuts around policies. This is important for you to consider when deciding who should do the training. Small businesses often have challenges because there are not many employees to choose from. Frequently it falls to the owner to do the on-boarding. Whether it is an employee or the business owner, I highly recommend getting the primary trainer the education needed to train someone.

Also, remember that people learn differently. When choosing your method of training, vary the way you give information. Mixing computer training, on- the- job shadowing, videos and webinars will hit multiple learning styles. Then create real-life examples for the employee to go through with someone shadowing them. Please make sure you appreciate the trainer. Sometimes this means incentivizing them monetarily or just verbalizing their importance to the company. Employees need to feel valued and if you make this a clear mission they will be happy to help on onboard.

Once the training is done, administering assessments to demonstrate what they have learned will serve as a failsafe. It is sometimes assumed that once someone is trained they have a clear understanding of what is required of them. But then a new situation comes up and they either were not trained for it or did not completely understand how to deal with it. In these situations people often make decisions based on their past experiences – or lack thereof. Assessments take out the assumptions of what was understood.

Continually Check In

Your employee now has a complete understanding of what a job well done looks like. You have given the trainer a checklist of what they needed to cover. You have administered assessments to clarify understanding and cover anything that may have been missed.

Now you need to set check-in meetings with the employee and their manager. I recommend a meeting once every two weeks, with a solid 90-day review. In these meetings you should be discussing wins, opportunities, questions and skill set coaching. Things come up. Use these meetings as opportunities to measure the effectiveness of your on-the-job training and make adjustments as new information is discovered. Remember, people have different learning styles, and some take longer to learn than others.

Training is one of the most important ingredients to the recipe of success for any business. You can either set yourself and your employees up for success or sabotage your company by taking shortcuts. I hope that the tips I have provided have given you an example of an “on-the-job- training” job well done.

An in-depth on-boarding process with a trainer is, in my opinion, the most effective way to develop employees. But when funds are low and there are few options, taking these tips into consideration will help you lower your turnover rate, mitigate potential customer issues and lower inconsistencies in the internal staff operations. Set your company up for success with happy and productive employees and make it a great business!

Erika Laws is a sales strategist with Impactful Sales Solutions and is the executive director of Impactful People NW. She can be reached at (503) 764-8289. For more information visit www.impactfulsalessolutions.com.

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