In my last Inc. article, I wrote about the 10-step hiring process I use to find new employees. But I should tell you: My recruitment effort doesn't end with the offer letter. Once I find the right potential recruit, I make it my responsibility, as the leader of my company, to train new staffers so they have the strongest chance of becoming productive and successful.
Here are the most important components of my training program you could try too:
1. Do at least some, if not all, of the training yourself.
You are the standard-bearer for your company. No one is better at explaining your company's mission and how it should show up in every interaction with your customers.
2. Bring other staffers in on the training.
Make sure the other trainers come from different departments. Doing so will give the new recruit a well-rounded understanding of how your company works at every level, not to mention introductions to colleagues across the company. Both of those things are fundamental to getting your recruit to buy into your process wholeheartedly.
3. Write a training manual.
Writing down what you want your employees to be trained to do will help you make sure that what you are trying to teach is clearly-defined and well-organized. New recruits can use the manual as a study guide. Knowing where they are at in the learning process also helps them to remain focused and motivated.
4. Make training fun.
Training should be interactive and include lots of different types of teaching styles. Lectures are okay, but using games, visual exercises, competitions, and role-plays can make the process more fun--and the more enjoyable the process is, the faster it will be.
5. Don't just explain big ideas.
Spend time pointing out the nuances of your product as well. It will show your recruit that you care about the details as much as the big picture--and give her the confidence to answer any question your customers ask.
6. Teach style as well as skills.
This is your chance to make clear what constitutes an A-player at your company. Defining how you expect employees to behave not only sets the ground rules for success, but also lays out the roadmap for employee advancement.
7. Test for technique and attitude.
A new recruit still hasn't proven himself. Use the training period to confirm you've made the right choice. The training period is your last chance to make sure you've selected the right employee, while you can still protect your customer.
8. Be patient.
Never rush the process, even if you need the recruit trained yesterday. Rushing leads to gaps in knowledge, and causes you to miss opportunities to fully turn a new recruit into someone who can do the job well.
All companies, even small ones like mine, devote huge amounts of time and resources to hiring, but relatively few to training. Trying to cut training corners or costs is a bad idea. The right training ends with the most important asset you can have: a thoroughly-trained employee who can contribute to your team and help grow your company.