In part one of this series on developing training protocols, we discussed the value that training protocols provide to employees and organisations, and the three types of training that new and existing employees can benefit from: orientation, job training, and development. In part two, we're looking at some additional aspects of developing orientation and training protocols that help employees succeed in your organisation.
Some organisations approach orientation with a laid-back attitude, and there's nothing wrong with that—it's better than nothing at all! But since the overall goal of orientation is to get new employees up to speed quickly, orientation is not something that can be skipped, particularly in positions that are likely to be filled by recent graduates and others who are new to the workforce. And to ensure that every employee receives the same essential information, it's important to have a somewhat systematic approach to orientation.
The larger your organisation, the more important this becomes. In organisations of hundreds or thousands of people, it's all too easy for new employees to get lost in the system. Employees that feel disconnected from the organisation for which they work are less productive and have less overall job satisfaction, and an effective orientation period is essential for helping employees understand the organisation and their place within it.
The first step in developing any kind of protocol—orientation included—is to simply sort out what you want it to achieve. What goals need to be accomplished for each individual who goes through the orientation period? For instance:
Orientation periods are typically a bit of a blur for the person who's coming into the organisation. It's difficult for most people to absorb a large amount of new information in a short space of time, so it's helpful to space out orientation activities throughout the day to give new employees time to absorb what they're learning.
The same principles that make orientation essential also make training important too, but with an extra couple of points. A training period doesn't just give new employees time to get to grips with their new role, it also gives them a little bit of leeway: for making mistakes, for learning how to perform time-sensitive tasks at an acceptable speed, and for any other aspects of the job that are critical to their success. It's easy for new employees to feel overwhelmed and anxious when they're thrown in at the deep end, but kicking off their employment with an official training period helps to alleviate these issues.
When a new employee starts work at an organisation, it's with the assumption—on the part of their employer—that they're experienced in performing their job. This is true in a general sense, since they've demonstrated via the interview process that they can do the work. What they don't yet have, of course, is experience in performing their job at the new company. This is the ultimate goal of the training period: training is what enables a new employee to effectively use their skills and experience to benefit their new employer.
It's important to keep this in mind when developing training protocols for new employees. Rather than assuming that new employees already know how to do everything it's much more effective to assume that, while they have general knowledge about the tasks associated with their new role, there are certain kinds of specific knowledge they might lack. For example, a new employee might be familiar with the accounting software the new organisation uses, but be unfamiliar with some of the specific ways in which the organisation uses the software. These are the kinds of details that training needs to supply.
Training, therefore, is about supplying a new employee with the specific information they need in order to apply their knowledge and skills. It's best accomplished in a dual-action way, with detailed written information that the employee can refer to as needed, along with a workplace mentor supplying supplemental information as it's required on the job.