Now that the economy is kickstarting, a lot of my clients are hiring new team members.  It has been a long time (a year) for many of them to do so, and we have been talking about ways to make these fresh starts more productive.  In the HR world, this process is called on-boarding, and includes the proper paperwork, documents, etc…

For those of you who have hired before, once we get through the paperwork, it’s all sunshine and roses after that, right?  If you laughed, join the club.  This is where it actually gets hard.  And the reason for this is that hiring a new employee in a small business actually takes your productivity DOWN 1 employee at first.  Yes, I said it actually makes it like you have one less employee, not one more.

The reason for this is simple, and so is the cure or fix.  Unless you hired a clone of one of your existing employees, you have to train them, and that makes the trainer less productive as well as the trainee. So until the new team member is trained enough, you are losing 50+% of the productivity of the trainer as well.  The key is to shorten the training time by making the training more effective and productive.

Here are 3 key steps any business can take to significantly reduce the training time it takes to start experiencing the net productivity improvement you intended by adding to your team.

Step 1Define the skills and skill achievement levels required to perform the role well.  The best way to do this is to have the most experienced people currently performing the work write down the list of skills and abilities required to do the job. For each skill/ability, you then grad the level of performance you expect a new employee to attain to be initially productive.  The levels I use are Aware, User, and Specialist.  Aware means exactly that – they are aware the skill/ability exists and how it fits into your operations.  User means they can perform the skill with some supervision, and Specialist means they can perform the skill unsupervised.

Step 2Create a training plan – I prefer to use a 6 week timeframe initially, but it can be 4-8 weeks.  Each week should highlight certain skills you expect them to learn/master to the level defined as appropriate for a new employee using the skill in that role.  Week 1 might be all about awareness for the most part, and maybe learning 1-2 tasks to the User level.  Week 2 might be adding some new User Level achievements, Week 4 might be getting close to Specialist on a couple items.  The important part of this is to set expectations for both the trainer and the trainee.

Step 3Implement the training plan the right way.  Give the new hire a copy of the plan and go over it with them, so they now know what is expected of them. They’ll participate as an active learner because they know what they are expected to learn each week.  They will of course see a LOT of new things, but they can focus their learning on the critical few that week.  This helps the trainer as well, as otherwise some trainers try to get new team members to Specialist level at everything at the same time.

To make sure this all works, there should be an end of week review of progress against the plan with the manager (the trainer should be reviewing it daily).  The key reason this works is that it sets expectations and accountability for all parties involved.  As the leader of your team or organization, you should also look for opportunities to ask the new team member what they learned that day/week.  Create a culture of learning, and your team will improve significantly more quickly.

If you need help taking a fresh look at your new employee on-boarding process, let our team help you.  You can schedule your FREE 30 Minute On-boarding Strategy Session here.  One of our coaches will walk you through the process of creating your plan. In addition, register to join us either in-person or virtually to learn how to ensure success for your new hires May 24th 2021. 


Author: Mark Mcnulty, Business Coach in Louisville, KY