We recently hired a new Office Administrator here at MyWork, which is the role I have had for the past year. This means it is my responsibility to train our new employee Kristie, answer any questions she has and generally look after her until she feels comfortable in the role. Sounds easy enough, but anyone who has trained a new employee in the past knows how tricky it is to explain things without coming across as scary, bossy or overwhelming.
Luckily for me, I have a background in training newbies from my past life as a McDonalds employee. I’ve been surprised at the similarities between training someone for fast food workplace and an office environment. Here are a few tips to make the process a bit easier.
Explain, Demonstrate, Explain Again
In the first few days, there’s a lot of things to explain. How the computer system works, how to answer the phone, and every other little task you’ve been doing without thinking for months. What seems obvious to you is never obvious to someone looking in from the outside, and new employees can be quite intimidated by how many things they need to learn. From my experience, explaining how to do something once isn’t enough for it to sink in. Explaining it theoretically is all very well, but it’s also great to be able to demonstrate what you’re talking about (i.e. how to respond to an email, how to transfer a call). After you have given a practical demonstration, it’s helpful to reiterate what you just did, and ask your trainee if they were confused about any part of it. If they’re clear about what to do, you can then get them to have a go at doing it themselves. This way, they’ll be much more confident and less likely to get confused.
Don’t Be Mean To The New Kid
It should go without saying that the ‘new kid’ will need a lot of kindness and patience. Mistakes will be made, which is fine, as long as they learn from them! However, even the best of us can get frustrated explaining something for what feels like the hundredth time. Even if you were super patient at first, you might catch yourself thinking ‘I’ll just do that task myself, I can do it better and faster and I won’t have to explain it to them again.’ Bad idea – they’re going to have to learn it eventually. No matter how bored or annoyed you are, remember that it’s not about you but about them. You’re there to help them, not for your own amusement. So even if you aren’t the most friendly or patient person, try to put yourself in their shoes and train them the way you would like to be trained.
All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy
Even though there is a lot of information to cover, a new employee can be overwhelmed if you don’t take things easy at first. A friendly, relaxed atmosphere can help reduce their stress levels and allow them to learn more easily. You don’t want to scare them off – make sure you emphasise the more enjoyable parts of the job so they have something to look forward to. For example, at MyWork the Friday drinks, birthday cake, and casual dress days are a fun change to the daily grind and a great way to break up the weeks. Recent hires are always relieved to find out that their new company has time for fun as well as work, which helps them to see going to work every day in a more positive light.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Remember that even if you’re an amazing trainer, everyone learns differently. Some people will need more attention and support, while others catch on quickly and you can let them go for it. No matter the attitude of your trainee, be sure to stay on the sidelines so you’re there if they need you in an emergency. No matter what, the more they practice the better they’ll get and before long they’ll hardly need you at all. So enjoy the training process while it lasts – you might be able to make a new friend. Most importantly, you will have been there for someone during one of the most stressful times in their life. Kinda makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.