In order to bring new hire employees up to speed quickly, implement new hire training programs using a combination of on-the-job training, formal training, and mentorship.
Many organizations choose to train new hires strictly on-the-job (OTJ). This can be a good practice if the existing employees have the time to bring a new hire from no knowledge to functional knowledge, or if the speed of production or service allows time for OTJ training. Using a new hire training program can help ramp up the new hire force much quicker and more effectively.
Implementing a formal new hire training program doesn’t have to mean the end of on-the-job training. In fact, a combination of OTJ, online learning, and classroom instruction can create a strong new hire program. For example, if your formal new hire program is three weeks long, deliver week one and then send the new hires to the job for few days to observe what they’ve just learned in action. Then bring them back to continue formal training. For this plan to work effectively, you must have a structured observation in place – and a rule that new hires will not be forced to go to full time work just because they showed up to the job. Another way to accomplish this is to use e-learning or online modules as intermittent interventions while the trainees are back on the job. This way, trainees can observe “real life”, work on some online courses, and then return to the classroom. This combination gives the new hire a well-rounded look at the job and the knowledge necessary to carry it out.
Another way to prepare new hires quickly, in addition to formal training, is to create a mentor program. This doesn’t mean simply assigning mentors on the job because they’ve been around for a hundred years – it means that you must look for field employees who have a natural ability to coach and mentor new hires. This also means that you must design a formal program. For example, once a new hire leaves formal training, the mentor should know what was and wasn’t covered in that program. There should also be a checklist of tasks or observations that the mentor must go through with the new hire – and a designated time frame to do so. On the mentor side, you should outline the behaviors and expectations of the mentor. With a mentor program in place, you are able to provide the continuation of new hire training on the job.
The caveats in formal new hire training programs are very important to know and to communicate to line supervisors and managers. First, you are sending a new hire out to the field with a base of knowledge. Managers and supervisors need to understand that the new hire is not going to be as proficient as the long-term employee on day one (in most cases). Second, managers and supervisors need to understand what the new hire’s functional limits are. What tasks should they be competent on and what tasks might they need assistance with?
When your new hire program is in place, you’ll be certain that new employees are getting a base of knowledge that is consistent with your organization’s standards. Each new hire will start on day one with the same base of knowledge as the next new hire. But they will start on the job with a much further range of function than if they were starting blind with only on-the-job training to support them. The ramp up to full functionality will be much quicker – and you will have the ability to start looking for successors for advanced positions. There is an investment of time and money in the development and delivery of a new hire training program, but you’ll find that the investment is well worth it.
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