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Lead Your Team Managing

4 Employee Training Tactics That Actually Work

4 Employee Training Tactics That Actually Work
Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

One of the most important ways to set a new employee up for success is to train that person well. Every job has a learning curve, and proper training is key to helping employees assimilate their new roles and your company's culture.

Handing a new employee a pamphlet or a pile of notes may be easy, but it's not going to help your team members learn how to do their jobs well. Business News Daily asked business leaders to outline a few training methods that help employees stay engaged and motivated throughout the process.

It's one thing to be told how to do something, but doing a task on the spot can sometimes be the most effective way of learning. Melissa Cohen, managing partner at Metis Communications, said her company incorporates hands-on shadowing into the new employee training process.

"The shadowing process allows trainees to retain information better by applying learned skills in real time and translating them to their daily tasks," Cohen said. "It also helps new team members experiment with responsibilities in a controlled environment without risk, all while building their confidence." [See Related Story: Starting Strong: How to Successfully Onboard a New Hire]

Kathy Thiessen, VP of franchise operations at 101 Mobility, a franchised provider of mobility and accessibility equipment, said that structured, biweekly meetings between an employee and his or her supervisor have been a very effective training method for her team.

"Our leadership team adheres to that schedule to show our trustworthiness and our investment in the team's success," she said. "Employees are required to bring their own agenda to kick off our coaching discussion."

In these meetings, Thiessen said 101 Mobility employees focus on opportunities for skills development and building self-identified strengths.

"I like to close out those meetings by talking about the last 10 percent — the things that are difficult to discuss or topics an employee may be hesitant to discuss," she added. "This needs to be done knowing their confidentiality will be respected."

Some employees learn best when they're in a more relaxed environment. Many businesses have adopted the concept of a "lunch and learn" session, in which a team member or third-party source gives a brief seminar-style presentation while refreshments are served. It doesn't even have to be a full lunch — Cohen said Metis Communications hosts optional, 45-minute Bagel or Beer 'n' Learns in the office and over video chat for its employees.

"In these sessions, a senior team member usually creates a casual, interactive and engaging presentation about a topic she has personal experience with, and then opens it up at the end for further discussion," she said. "Such sessions usually lead to brainstorming among the group, as well as comfortable, open communication between team members of all experience levels."

While live training sessions can certainly be engaging, you run the risk of the employee forgetting what he or she has learned after it's over. Recording these presentations and making them available to your team can serve as a great refresher, or as a convenient "makeup" for those who missed the meeting.

"For basic training on technology tools and other standard PR and marketing practices, we provide links to video recordings and have the team make internal presentation recordings through join.me, so any team member can watch them at his or her own convenience."

You can have the most interesting and engaging training methods available, but if your company's leadership doesn't buy into it, your new employees won't, either.

"Starting a new role in a new company is stressful for everyone," said Cohen. "The existing team should be readily available to help a new hire overcome the learning curve. Following initial training sessions, managers should schedule check-ins … to make time for new questions that arise, help new hires establish relationships with current employees and make them feel completely comfortable in their new role."

Fred Mouawad, CEO of Taskworld, said employee training shouldn't be tackled with a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, training programs should be tailored to each employee based on their skills and profile, because the success of those programs hinges on employee motivation. Each employee learns differently, so discover whether they prefer visual, auditory or kinesthetic (learning by doing) methods of instruction, Mouawad said.

"It's important to convince employees about the effectiveness of training programs to boost their engagement," he added. "Remember that lecture in school when you just couldn't focus on what was being said; when your mind was in a completely different place? That's exactly how employees feel when they are not interested in training programs."

Cohen agreed, and noted that you should be listening to your employees and gathering their feedback about training initiatives, to make sure you're not wasting your time or theirs.

"Make training an ongoing discussion with employees to ensure it's a useful tool, not a burden, for new hires and training leaders alike," Cohen told Business News Daily. "We've implemented a variety of in-depth training methods through the years, but not everyone engages in them effectively, and it would have been a disservice to keep a training approach around just because it seemed like a good idea on paper."

"There has to be a culture of transparency established at the onboarding process so that employees aren't afraid to let you know if they feel they need more training," Thiessen added. "Put them in a position to exceed expectations by exposing them to cross-training opportunities, and [by] providing enough guidance for all employees to contribute to the overall success of the company."

Nicole Fallon Taylor

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the managing editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.