How to train a newcomer – as told by a newcomer

How to train a newcomer – as told by a newcomer

Useful learning curves and insider tips can be the difference between a smooth or a rocky transition into a new office position. A well-planned and organized training program is critical – new employees looks for confirmation that hopping aboard was the right decision. The hardest question to ask when training is: what didn’t I know when I first started here? Told from the perspective of a newcomer, this tutorial is your essential guide to training your new employee the right way.

Create a list (and schedule) of performance objectives

“The first week of training was stressful. The information was overwhelming and sometimes it wasn’t clear as to why I was being taught a specific task.”

Treat your training program like a class. Every class requires a checklist, syllabus or calendar outlining learning objectives. New employees need to know what they’re expected to understand and how they will be assessed. Objectives also help the trainer/instructor develop methods to assess new employees’ skills. Keep in mind, performance objectives should be specific, measurable and clearly stated. Prepare for the new employee’s first day by giving this list to everyone involved in the training process.

Offer different types of training styles

“My first training day was just a bulk of reading – manuals, pamphlets and a thick booklet of policies and procedures. It didn’t make much sense to me and it made my first few days uneasy and confusing.”

Effective training programs should be diverse and highlight various learning styles. People retain information in different ways, so plan a training program that appeals to each. Generally, there are four learning styles: kinesthetic, auditory, visual and reading. Your newcomer may be a little bit of each, but in most cases, one style of learning dominates.

Kinesthetic training involves hands-on activities, including in-person demonstrations and simulations. Give your newcomer physical tasks to go along with their online training or have them test equipment they’ll be handling on the job. Auditory training speaks for itself – utilize voice-over videos and audio recordings for these employees. If you have presentations, orientation videos and infographics, it will be particularly useful for visual learners. Lastly, the reading learners will benefit and possibly welcome your 200-page training manual and stacks of handouts because they easily absorb worded information.

Explain the workplace culture and politics

“I worked in a lab – every department had their own lingo. It was difficult to keep up with certain learning objectives when I had no idea what they were talking about.”

“I noticed that when I left at exactly 5:00 PM, the parking lot was still full. It wasn’t until a few days later that I was told staying late was common and oftentimes expected.”

Every company has its own culture. Wherever you work, there is a specific language spoken and between departments, colleagues, clients and managers. It’s crucial to give your newcomer a run-down of how to navigate the lingo. Workplace culture is made up of values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes and collective behaviors. Culture is learned and is best presented through interaction. Show your newcomer around and if you see certain behaviors or interactions that reflect the culture – point them out, give them context, share the history. Introduce new employees to the managers or supervisors in charge of the company’s culture. Go over company history, mission, vision and expectations. This will help them get an idea of how to excel and be recognized. As you introduce the newcomer to everyone, be mindful of specific terminology or words used in conversation. This will give the new guy a chance to assimilate certain terminologies.

Give reasonable time and be patient

“The training manager and I couldn’t figure out an issue with the computer system. Luckily, my boss stopped in and helped. This made a world of difference to me and my trainer. I felt like my boss was invested in the training session as much as I was.”

The learning curve is frustrating for both trainee and trainer. Mistakes will happen – but that’s all part of the process. It’s up to you to train with patience and be available to communicate with your new employee. When you’re understanding, you help newcomers build confidence and trust. Devote plenty of time to touch base. This shift in focus will also ensure that your newcomer will feel welcome and invested!

Assign a mentor during the adjustment period

“The first few days were a bit shaky. I had to keep asking questions, but didn’t know who to ask. There wasn’t anyone there except my peers, who were sometimes too busy to guide me.”

After the initial training period is over, it’s time for newcomers to spread their wings and fly. But, not all newcomers are treated equal, as some do require an adjustment period. An assigned mentor, one that will work closely with the newcomer, can provide individual assistance when they are experiencing challenges. A mentor can ease any uncertainties that the new employee has regarding responsibilities or work environment. By pairing a new employee with an experienced worker, you’ll offer encouragement and promote growth.

Ask the newcomer for their opinion

“There were times during my training session when I felt it wasn’t an efficient use of time. I was required to watch training videos and read manuals, despite the shared understanding that it was common sense.”

After a few weeks of training, ask your new employee for feedback. Performance evaluation is equally important for the trainee as it is to the trainer. Establish an evaluation program with the hiring manager or human resources. Some questions you may wish to include in the evaluation: “How did the training effect your performance?” “Which methods did or didn’t work for you? “Was training delivered effectively?” The response to this evaluation can help future newcomers acclimate comfortably, quickly, and efficiently.


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