Every time you hire an employee, you’re making a gamble. You might end up with a great, creative and ambitious new hire who complements your team and drives your business to new heights, or you might end up with a glorified robot, doing tasks as assigned and not a fraction more. You might end up with a creative liar slacking on company time who doesn’t last a month.
To some extent, you can hedge your bets through a potent training process and chisel a new employee into that creative, ambitious worker you so desire.
Before you begin.
First, run through the training procedure yourself. You know what’s expected of the employee in their position, but you don’t always know for sure if those expectations come through in your training process. Going through it yourself from the perspective of a new hire can help. You might also enlist another employee’s feedback, to make sure any common questions or concerns are covered.
Once the new employee is present, give them a packet of the process flow, the procedure notes or whatever other physical reminders you want to use. You need notes to run your training properly, making sure you don’t skip anything. Giving your new employee a copy of those notes will let them study in their off hours. It also gives them a resource to check before they have to come ask you for clarification.
Related: How to Give New Hires a Great Start
The early weeks of training.
Start things off slowly. When you overwhelm a new trainee, you make it harder for them to retain specific information. Different people have different thresholds for how much is too much, so watch your employees to see how they react. If they aren’t having any trouble, or bring relevant experience to the table, don’t force them to work below their talents longer than they need to.
Once they’re in the swing of things, start to challenge them. Present them with achievable goals and responsibilities, and let them go at it. Make sure you’re available for clarification, but you’re not hovering over their shoulder. Availability is the key here; the longer an employee persists in indecision or in a bad behavior, the harder it will be to correct later.
Give praise and criticism in equal measure, as deserved. Praise is especially important. An expectation of excellence is one thing, but a complete lack of any appreciation makes your employees wonder if they made the right choice to accept your job offer. Criticism, meanwhile, allows you to intercept and correct bad behavior before it becomes a habit. It shows you’re paying attention and it keeps everyone on track.
Have a weekly designated contact session. Air concerns, give feedback, get feedback and keep up communication. You don’t necessarily need to maintain a weekly schedule beyond the first few months, but you want to make it clear that you’re available to talk about performance concerns at any time. At this point, it’s all about maintaining awareness and encouraging creativity.
Train your employees to think outside of the rules. Blindly following rules leads to placid employees. Encouraging thinking outside-the-box can help improve your company, all around. When a rule exists that absolutely must be followed, such as safety regulations or industry-specific laws, make sure your employees know what that rule is and why it exists. Thinking outside the box is one thing; endangering someone in an OSHA violation is quite another.
If all goes well, you’ll have a happy employee who knows how to do their job, follow the rules and bend them when necessary. You’ll also have employees with ambition and talent to help you take your business to the next level.