Small Business Services

Employee Training Can Work: What to Consider First

As a manager, you probably engage in training sessions frequently, albeit brief, informal ones. You might teach an employee how to add a logo to invoices in your accounting application, use the office security system, or check over a vehicle before renting it to a customer.

But it’s likely that you occasionally need to facilitate a formal training session with multiple employees on a specific topic. Before you decide on a training method, there are a few issues you should resolve first.

Questions First

What are your training needs? Have there been safety issues in the workplace? Are you implementing new software or websites or a network? Has HR mandated that you instruct employees on avoiding behavior that could be interpreted as harassment or discrimination?

How much money and time you can spend on the training? Who is your audience, and what knowledge do they already have on the topic? Can you get them all in the same room? What resources do you have access to, and what will be needed in addition?

More Considerations

You also need to consider the skills of the trainer. If you bring in a professional, this isn’t an issue, but if a staff member will be the leader, think about how you’ve observed the individual in meetings and other group settings.

How much do you know about your training group? If you work with these employees daily, think about their levels and types of participation in meetings and casual conversations.

Once you’ve defined your needs, it will be easier to match them with a workable training approach. Here are some options.

Live Training

Let’s say you’re teaching employees how to use a computer application or rotate a set of tires or answer a customer service call. This is pretty cut-and-dried. You’re modeling the actions required and watching the participants perform them.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Instead of just plunging into the activity, start with a short presentation. What are the participants about to learn and why? If the process doesn’t require too many steps, run through them ahead of time.
  • Try not to put your group members on the spot. If it’s possible, do your presentation and demonstration first, then dismiss the employees and bring them back one at a time.
  • Make it interactive. Encourage questions and repetition of the activity’s steps.

Remote Training

Using a screen-sharing application, this can be an effective way to train groups of employees who work in different locations. It’s more difficult, though, to evaluate how well your remote staff members have actually absorbed the information you’re presenting.

If the group is small enough, have each member set up a video feed so that everyone can be introduced. Return to this screen whenever you’re not actively demonstrating something so that you can look for signs of both comprehension and confusion.

You can add some hands-on training here by turning screen control over to a participant and talking them through a procedure. When you’re demonstrating something yourself, you probably know it so well that you may move too fast. Let the group members see how they themselves might function early on.

Presentation Plus Interactivity

An interactive presentation can produce good results and take some of the pressure off of the presenter. Your employees’ attention is likely to wander if they’re just staring at someone talking for an hour, even if the presentation is supplemented with visual aids.

Group participation can enhance learning and make the training experience more enjoyable. You’ve probably participated in some of the standard exercises that are often employed, like role-playing, Q&As, and small group work.

Two Critical Elements

The skills, knowledge, and personality of the trainer can make or break a training session. So choose wisely.

Remember, too, that not everyone will retain the information presented well enough to use it capably in the workplace. So either build testing into the session itself or require post-training feedback and assessment. You need assurance that employees dealing with people, computer applications, other peoples’ property, etc., are well-trained.

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