by Paden Hughes

The Scenario:

You are a CEO of a popular apparel company and are trying to keep your company up-to-date with ever-changing marketing mediums to keep competitive with international companies within the industry. Your average workweek is around 70 hours and over the years you have kept a high degree of discipline to sustain this demanding pace. However, your team explains that there are not enough staff members to assist in meeting monthly goals and keeping up with the competition in the industry. You wait another 6 months to evaluate the situation and it becomes very evident that it is time to hire for additional help. You have not hired or trained someone in a very long time and there is no manual available for this new employee to refer to. Knowing this, you may feel responsible for training the new employee yourself, which would push you over the edge physically and mentally.

 Structuring the onboarding process of the new employee?

a.  Inform the manager that you are too busy to get pulled into the new employee training. You both decide to have the new hire sit down each week with a different team member to observe them at their work, answering customer service calls, editing the website and creating marketing campaigns. You both agree that after 3 weeks of shadowing various team members, the employee will be well prepared and hence treated like anyone else on the team (most of whom have been with you for over 8 years).


b. You meet with the manager and outline all the responsibilities, software programs, company standards etc. in which the new hire will need to understand. Then you assign a current team member to train the new hire in several of these areas. This allows the workload to be dispersed among several employees rather than just one.


The Collaboration Perspective

We have seen a huge increase in human resource needs since August 2012. During the recession, many of our clients came to us asking for help because sales were down and money to pay bills wasn’t as available as it once was. Now we have seen a shift in needs as more companies are asking us to solve the common problem: how to find the right people and train them to be effective team members.

Many of our clients have found themselves in the above scenario and have attempted to properly position themselves to resolve this dilemma. When asking our perspective, we encourage owners to choose the second option and spread the weight of training to several members of the staff in their areas of expertise.


4 steps to ensure the training is successful:

1. Create a distinct onboarding checklist.

The checklist should include the company bio, core values training, office administration (keys, alarm code, IT vendor information, etc.) and all the responsibilities they will be accountable for.

2. Put the ownership on the new employee. 

The workload for every manager on your team will not decrease with the hiring of a new employee. In fact, it will only increase. We recommend providing the checklist to the new employee and allow them to be responsible for checking off the relevant items by the end of 30 days to complete the training. (For most positions, this time frame is sufficient for the initial training.) This method provides the opportunity for the new hire to take responsibility for his/her own preparation.

3. Track progress weekly in order to meet the 30-day goal.

The direct manager should formally meet with the new hire on a weekly basis to track their progress in achieving the checklist goals. In addition, give them smaller tasks in order to review what they have learned throughout the training. This strategy will establish and solidify the training material in the new hire’s mind, allowing them to understand the context of each task learned.

4. Allow the employee to build one’s own manual while being trained. 

No one wants to train the same subject more than once. Many employers also feel a lack of preparation when they don’t already have a step-by-step manual for the new hire’s role. An appropriate solution for this concern is to ask the new hire to document all the necessary steps and guides learned in the training. This opportunity will help the company with future employee trainings, as well as to prepare the new hire to be a valuable long-term member to your team.

Companies who have followed the above recommendations have been relieved to find that sharing the training of a new hire, having them be responsible for learning everything they need to know and documenting it has made the first 30 days much more effective than previous onboarding implementation plans.


The Business Lesson Blog Series

With nearly 20 years in consulting, we’ve found there are a number of very teachable and universal business lessons that transcend industry and business age. We tell these stories and give this advice freely to encourage small business owners to think strategically and respond to classic business conundrums. We welcome your comments and questions, and if you have a topic idea for a future blog please share it with us!

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