BY LIZ ILLG
If you’re running a small business, you’ve got a lot of moving parts to deal with at any given time. One of the biggest assets in running your business comes in the form of the people you hire. But even hiring the best of the best won’t help if your new employees don’t have a proper guide to follow. This is why it’s critical to have a new-hire training manual in place—ideally before a candidate even steps in the door.
As someone who runs five pet grooming shops, I’ll be honest—training employees is not always the most exciting thing. In fact, when you’re starting out, it can be a bit frustrating. Having to take the time to teach somebody else everything you already know—you may feel that it’s easier to just do everything yourself. I completely understand that feeling, and that’s why it is so important to create a training manual.
It doesn’t matter how much experience your newest employee has—perhaps they’ve worked in your industry for over 10 years—they haven’t worked for your business. It’s critical that these folks are trained in a way that makes sense and conveys the unique values of your specific business.
Where to Start?
The first step is to consider how many training manuals you’ll need. My advice is to make a unique one for each role in your business. If you’re hiring a receptionist versus a groomer, think about the person’s daily role and consider these questions: What aspect of the business will this person oversee? What are some obstacles this person may encounter on a regular basis? Who will this person be working with on a day-to-day basis?
You’ll also want to think about how long it will take to train this person. Remember, no matter how much experience this new hire has, he or she has never worked for your business. There will always be a learning curve. You can’t expect a new hire to know everything in a short amount of time; you have to allow time for new hires to learn the quirks of how your business works.
Now you can truly begin to create the content for your training manuals. Consistency is key, and you’ll want to lay out the manual in a way that makes sense—in an order that you want your new hire to learn things in. The last thing you want to do is confuse your new hire and have them jumping around the manual from week to week.
Try These Tips
Start with the basics. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that get overlooked when bringing in a new hire. For example: Where and how do they clock in? What are the core values of your business? Who should this new hire be reporting to? Getting all of the little things out of the way first will make it easier for your new hire to assimilate and make things happen!
Checklists are a great way to keep organized and get your priorities straight. Whether you use a digital platform to keep organized or good old-fashioned pen and paper, you can’t go wrong with this method. Also be sure to create a level of accountability by putting someone in charge of signing off on the new hire’s training progress. Whether it’s you or another senior employee, there should be an open dialogue about how training is going. This will also give your new hire a designated go-to person for any questions or concerns they may have.
Remember, the key to creating the perfect training manual for new hires is as simple as creating learning goals for your new hire, placing them on a realistic learning timeline and assigning a person to ensure these objectives are being met. Break everything down into daily learning objectives, and it’ll be smooth sailing from there!