February 20, 2019
I remember it like it was yesterday. I had been hired to be a product manager for an industrial ecommerce site. I had stated in my interview I wasn’t familiar with the platform they were using, but that didn’t seem to deter them from hiring me, telling me they’d train me. I was offered the job, accepted, and two weeks later found myself in a cubicle staring at a screen.
While I had been told I would be trained, it took a few hours for the trainer to come in and teach me about the platform I would be using. Throughout the training, he would occasionally say “I’m not sure about that thing, talk to so-and-so,” before buzzing along to the next point to teach me. Within a half hour, he was gone and I was only slightly more informed than I began. I talked to the person he had said to talk to if I had questions, and that person did not give me any more information beyond, “Well, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, so I’m probably not the best person to ask.” I set to work to learn.
Those first few months were a trial by fire, with many mistakes (some costly) made that I’d find for the next year or two, cursing my early ignorant days. I am not alone in that feeling either, one of the top 10 complaints about companies from employees is the lack of training opportunities. The training had been fast and everything was out of order. All I had to rely on were my notes I took as he talked. I set to documenting each task, how to do it, screenshots, and troubleshooting so no one would have to go through that again. It made me realize the value of training, and how managers and employees alike need to be prepared for it.
Let’s focus on four common types of learners: auditory, visual, writers/readers, and kinesthetic. Auditory learners learn best by hearing, visual learners do best by seeing, writers and readers do best by reading, and kinesthetic learners learn best by doing. While people may lean towards one way of learning over another, most people will learn best through a combination of these.
As I learned through my own experience, someone talking to me and walking me through a hypothetical scenario did help me to learn, but still left me with terrible gaps and no resources to turn to. Even if you have stacks of training documents for employees to search through, that doesn’t mean everything will start making sense to them.
Multiple formats to include for your training materials:
As soon as you mention training in a room you can often see eyes glaze over or glance towards their cell phone, fingers twitching. While training may not ever be something to be excited about, engagement can definitely be improved upon. Here’s how to keep it painless and cost-effective.
How does your training process stack up? Are you guilty of dropping a pile of documents on new hires? Or do you use a combination of these tips and strategies to set your new employees up for success? In any case, use this time to re-examine your processes. Ask existing employees what they wish they knew when they first started, and after each round of training, continue to ask for constructive feedback on how to improve your processes. Pretty soon, you’ll be finding reviews on Glassdoor about how well you prepare new employees for the job.
Written by Shea Drake