Thursday, April 21, 2011

Training is a pain. Make it go away!

By the time you hire someone, you're often so swamped that the feeling of "it's easier to do it myself" kicks in full strength.  One way to reduce the training time going forward is to get your trainee to document what you're teaching him and create firm procedures.

Here's how it works:
  1. Think in terms of processes, checklists, naming conventions, samples and templates. Plan your training topics.
  2. When you train, have your trainee take notes and document the procedure, step by step. Note file names where samples can be found, approval checkpoints, risks, etc.
  3. Have the trainee walk you through the documentation he produces, and tell him where corrections need to be made.
  4. File or e-file the documentation in your office procedures file or notebook.
  5. Assign your trainee the role of  creating documentation that will help anyone who takes over when he is undoubtedly given more and different responsibilities as a reward for being such an amazing employee. (or in the event he is bold enough to think he is entitled to a vacation and you use a temp to cover) If you ask him to create a job description and a training manual, he just might do an amazing job of it.
The idea is to get someone else to do the tedious work of creating training materials and procedures so that the number of times you have to train someone on the same topic is reduced.  If you establish checklists and templates as you go, you'll improve your consistency and efficiency.  Putting a beginner in charge of the process will make it more likely that the steps will be comprehensive and easy to follow.

The conversations don't have to happen perfectly, you will still have 'drop and run' work that just needs to get done, but have the idea in mind.

As a note, depending on the technology you use in your practice, this notion can be implemented in that technology.  Think about opportunities to systematize steps in document creation, etc.  When I reference "file", it doesn't mean paper. Could be an e-file. Could be a box.net folder.

If you don't have time to learn the technology you're using, that's another thing a trainee can do for you.  During down time, assign him the task of finding out how to do something in your system. If you think there "must be a better way", there usually is. 

Bottom line is that it would be nice for you to have a very organized approach to bringing someone in and making them productive as soon as possible, but if you don't, use their help to make it up as you go!