Employee development is modified to fit the position, industry, job duties, and employees’ career plans. Likewise, different forms of training are better suited for certain jobs, such as apprenticeships for skilled trades and mentoring and onboarding for professional occupations. Training or mentoring programs are flexible in terms of time and amount of instruction they provide. Commonly, apprenticeships and onboarding are for shorter, defined periods. Job shadowing and mentor-mentee relationships can support continuous employee development over an extended period.
Onboarding is an example of training for newly hired management level employees. This training can last several weeks and consists of interaction with various departments and colleagues. It improves a new manager’s appreciation for department functions, interdepartmental relationships, and his colleagues’ responsibilities. A typical onboarding program for a human resources manager starts with learning the functions of the department he was hired to manage — getting acquainted with human resources staff and HR department functions. During an HR manager’s onboarding, it’s helpful if a staff member can take the lead while the HR manager is completing his rounds onboarding with other of the organization’s departments. This form of training is especially valuable for human resources managers because they learn firsthand the workforce challenges, staffing models and employee-supervisor relationships within departments the HR department serves.
When a seasoned employee teaches a relatively inexperienced worker how to perform job functions, it’s on-the-job training or an apprenticeship. This is usually skill-based training that involves learning processes or procedures for technical positions or jobs that require knowledge and expertise in the trades, such as building, construction or cosmetology. An example of apprenticeship training is when an employee studies under the guidance of a master electrician. She is assigned to learn through watching the master electrician perform tasks and as well as classroom instruction. During the early stages of an apprenticeship, the future electrician may do simple tasks such as drilling and laying out tools. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, she becomes a journeyperson — an electrician with the knowledge and skill level necessary to most electrical work. A journeyperson can become a master electrician with experience and further training.
One of the form of job shadowing involves two similarly experienced workers with an interest in each other’s function area of expertise. An example of a job shadow pairing might consist of two human resources specialists in separate disciplines: one an expert in compensation and benefits, and the other an expert in employee relations. Both employees have five years’ experience in their respective fields; however, they are interested in expanding the breadth of their human resources knowledge by learning more about another human resources discipline. The job shadow experience facilitates bilateral instruction, meaning the employee relations specialist shadows the compensation and benefits specialist for a week. The compensation and benefits specialist then shadows the employee relations specialist for a week. This continues until each specialist feels she has a good grasp and understanding of the others’ specialty field.
The pairing between an accomplished executive and an aspiring professional is called a mentor-mentee relationship. These are not always formal relationships — they can be very informal, as a matter of fact. In some instances, a mentor-mentee relationship naturally occurs between two people and can last for quite a long time, especially when there’s a mutually rewarding connection between the mentor and the mentee or when the mentee has a sense of admiration for his mentor. An example of a mentor-mentee relationship is one between a law firm senior partner and a young associate. Throughout the relationship, the young lawyer learns the nuances of a law firm practice and how to be more effective in the courtroom. This type of mentor-mentee pairing can last for years during the young lawyer’s entire time on the partnership track.
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Developing a training program can be broken down into eight steps, from a needs assessment to follow-up and review.
While the content of every training program is different, depending on the skills you want your employees to learn and develop, you can develop your own program using the same formula. The process begins with determining what your small business requires and then matching those requirements with what your employees need to learn.
Assess your business’ training needs by defining company needs. Based on these needs identify position-related goals and the skills each employee needs to achieve these goals.
Find training materials and instructors. If there is someone in your organization who has already mastered the skills you need to teach your employees, that person may be able to train them without purchasing materials or hiring a trainer. However, someone who can do a job is not necessarily skilled at teaching. For example, if you want to teach your employees Microsoft PowerPoint, someone in your office may be able to download materials from the Microsoft website and use this as the basis of a training session. Otherwise, you may be better off hiring an experienced instructor who has developed the materials already. Manufacturers, distributors and industry organizations or associations may also have training materials and experienced trainers available to you, often at no cost to you.
Separate training sessions into soft and hard skill categories. Soft skills training includes topics such as customer service, policies, harassment, diversity, safety and other general information. Hard skills are those used to complete a specific task, such as machine operation or specific job procedures.
Create a training matrix on paper or a computer spreadsheet that lists employee names, job titles and all training available. Placing scheduled training dates next to the employee’s names for each training will allow you to use the matrix as a scheduling and tracking guide.
Match employees with training sessions that suit their specific jobs. Some general information training courses should be assigned to every employee on the training matrix.
Designate an in-house training coordinator or team to help develop and create your program, or to supervise the work being done by an outside trainer.
Implement your training program with all new hires during their orientation, especially those trainings related to safety and policy. Arrange for current employees to attend training as needs arise or schedules allow.
Monitor your training program regularly by obtaining employee feedback and comparing department productivity statistics before and after the training. It’s okay to tweak and modify training programs as your company grows and your needs change.
- Training sessions don’t have to be elaborate multi-media presentations with professional trainers. If your budget is small, a designated employee presenting information on printed handouts will suffice.Training program development can take time. When creating your training program, weigh the costs of doing it yourself and hiring a professional.Conduct training in a designated room away from office distractions.
- Consult state and federal laws and recommendations governing training on safety, workplace harassment, and other state-mandated topics. Failure to provide training on specific topics may result in state, federal or civil legal action under certain circumstances.Make sure all company officials and managers are on-board with the information provided during training. If training does not mirror operations and expectations, you’ve wasted money and employee morale will be negatively affected.
Your orientation program can provide employees with a proper introduction to your company, what’s expected and where they fit into overall goals.
New employees to your company can be welcomed with an orientation program that makes them feel at ease and like they’re a part of the team. Orientation programs vary depending on the industry, the management style, and the overall company culture. Your orientation program can provide employees with a proper introduction to your company, what’s expected and where they fit into overall goals.
New employees need to become acquainted with their new workplace immediately. Take them on a tour of the office, pointing out essential locations such as human resources, their manager’s office, bathrooms, break rooms, the printing area, technology support and the company eatery.
Introduce to Co-Workers
While touring the facility, you can introduce a new employee to fellow co-workers. Schedule a formal meeting with the members of the direct team or department the employee will work in for more in-depth introductions.
Review Employee Handbook and Paperwork
An employee handbook contains a company’s rules and regulations. It also covers information on company benefits, pay dates, paid-time-off, lunch and other work breaks, state and federal employment laws and acts and more. Rather than read each page, highlight the most important sections and have the employee read it during his first week and contact you if he has additional questions. Provide the employee with a signature page that outlines that he has read and understands what’s outlined in the handbook.
Review Goals and Job Expectations
A new employee cannot achieve optimal levels of productivity and efficiency with a company if she’s not presented with his goals and how they fit with the overall needs of the company or her job expectations. This information should be discussed during new employee orientation so that an employee can get clarification on any points she’s unsure of.
Provide Training and Shadowing
Although an employee may have experience in your industry, he still needs training to learn how your company, specifically, operates within the industry. Training can range from attending seminars, tackling computer-based programs or shadowing an employee who does the same or a similar job as the new employee.
Assign a Mentor
Arriving fresh-faced to a company isn’t always a comforting situation for employees, and many times, they seek an informal mentor to help guide them through their first couple of weeks with the company. Take the first step and assign new employees a mentor they can go to with questions or for encouragement.
Schedule a Lunch
Enjoying lunch with a select group of co-workers gives new employees a more relaxed way to meet colleagues and learn more about them and the company. While new hires are often introduced to co-workers in passing, you can arrange a lunch during their first week where a new hire can sit with his manager and high-performing members of the team he’s joining. Employees can share common interests, discuss the company culture and answer any questions the new employee has, all while enjoying a meal outside of the office.
Set an Evaluation Period
Employee evaluations benefit both employers and employees by giving each an opportunity to discuss how an employee is performing in his role and what he may need to be more successful. Evaluations also give employees an opportunity to give their employers feedback on their experiences with the company. During orientation, inform employees about your company’s evaluation process so they’re aware of how their performance is reviewed. Rather than waiting a year to provide your initial feedback, set up a 30-, 60- or 90-day review period for new employees. This will give you a chance to see how they’re settling into their roles and responsibilities within the company before an annual review.
Creating an orientation process can be an effective and consistent way of welcoming new employees without forgetting any details. Format the orientation process as a guide that you and other managers can use to save time and ensure consistent information is provided to every new staff person in a clear and logical manner. A successful orientation process will help reduce anxiety and employee turnover while communicating realistic expectations and making new staff instantly feel like part of a team.
1. Begin creating a checklist of topics you want to cover during your new employee orientation. Build on the checklist as you complete the orientation packet. Include copies of the finished checklist with the final orientation guide so you can keep track of the materials you’re covering.
2. Write a “Welcome” section. In this section, include information new employees need to know about the business’ environment and culture that will make them feel more comfortable. Your introduction should set the tone of your company’s culture and make a positive impression. At the beginning of the orientation process, introduce key staff and team members, make the goals of the orientation clear and conduct an icebreaker. Instead of just having the new employees participate in the icebreaker, have other coworkers participate in the activities, too, as this can be an effective team-building technique.
3. Outline the company’s objectives. An employee will feel more important and welcomed if he knows his work is helping fulfill a mission.
4. List policies and procedures an employee should know to avoid making mistakes during her first days on the job. Doing so will communicate that you want her to succeed. Such policies can include those relating to employee parking, breaks, and clocking in and out of work. Save the job- and department-related policies and procedures for the actual job training.
5. Write about topics related to human resources. Begin with an organizational chart of the business and the names of key individuals, including the names of the employee’s human resources and departmental contacts. Provide an overview of each department’s duties and goals. Review employee benefits, information regarding payroll and procedures for calling in sick or requesting time off.
6. Include a copy of the new employee’s job description, along with instructions and samples that will help her fill out forms.
7. List and describe the resources available to the employee, including a map of the building if you have a large office or campus. Employee resources can include information about company incentive programs, employee assistance programs, employee discounts, health and wellness programs and public transit information. It is also a good idea to include a current list of the company’s employees, along with their extension numbers and work email addresses.