How to start an employee training program

how to start an employee training program

Do you struggle with building a powerhouse team? What about training them to be future leaders in your company?

Making sure your team is equipped to handle any situation means one thing: employee training. Yep – I said it. Training. I know, for the rest of this article, I have to tread lightly.

When you think about corporate training, what comes to mind? Probably one of these two words: boring and useless. Two words you never want associated with anything, right?

So, let’s fix that.

Employee training programs don’t have to be dry. They can be the life of the party. But only if you set your program up to make your employees want to learn – not scare them away.

How do you get started training your employees?

You need the basics down. And that starts answering a couple questions.

Start by asking yourself these four questions:

1. Do I need an employee training program?

Of course, we think so. But every company is different. Your team may have all the experience they need and you could supplement with annual conferences and industry publications.

Even if you have a small team, you should have some kind of program in place. Many small teams believe training can happen on the fly. Au contraire. Small teams need training, too. When you have a team of less than 10, each person wears multiple hats and there’s always an opportunity to get better at what you do or learn a new skill. Provide the opportunity for them to do so.

2. What do I want to gain from training my employees?

Don’t train your team just for the sake of “training your team”. It’s a waste of money unless you’re aiming for an end result. What do you want out of your training. Here are a couple examples:

Whatever your goals may be, use them to help shape your training program. It keeps you focused on what you’re trying to achieve.

3. What’s my budget? Can I effectively train my employees?

A lot of managers and corporate trainers have budgets. And your company is probably similar. How much can you afford? How many team members can you train? What resources inside and outside your company are available to you? Budgets answer these questions. Plus, they help you get creative within monetary constraints. Almost always a good skill to have!

4. Does my team want to learn?

Not everyone is keen to self-improvement. They’re just fine with where they are personally and professionally. As much as you need to respect an employee’s decision, not to better themselves, there’s an opportunity to turn your company culture around. Think about how your program will make an impact on the company and certain team members. It may be for the better!

Stop!

Seriously, write down the answers to these questions. A scribble is better than nothing. Grab a pad and start writing – right now. These questions are important to answer because they help

Done? Cool – let’s move on.

Find your first test subjects…errr, employees.

Many employees love to just get their work done and leave. It’s a job. It pays the bills. They may not want anything to change.

That’s why rolling out a brand-new initiative is tough for just about any company. There’s a lot of organizational issues to work through. The bottom line is getting team buy-in is hard.

Even if your team is “on-board” they might not take the program seriously or devote the necessary time to get value out of it.

So how do you bring everyone together to accomplish a goal?

Here are a couple pointers for getting your team to say yes:

Ask certain employees

Let’s face it. There are going to be certain employees who are going to want to do the training. They’re the easy ones to enroll. You want the team members who are likely not to invest in training because they’ll help you improve your program the most.

Give them an incentive

Why would any employee do something for nothing? Yep – I don’t know either. Your team needs a reason to go through the motions of training. It could be a certification that makes them do their job better and charge higher rates, the day off from work, or simply all-expenses paid. What’s your incentive?

Group buy-in

Often times, when other members of your department are going to a training, peer-pressure works it’s magic. Simply let your non-commital employee know everyone else is going and it’d be great if she came along, too. Chances are, she’ll say yes just because the whole group is attending.

Buy-in can take time. It won’t happen overnight, so make sure you’re ready for a long slog of finding people to jump start your program.

Your next task: get 3-5 employees to agree to test your employee training program out (yes, before you have designed it).

Why would you do that?

Well, let’s look at a more likely story. You wouldn’t get a crazy flavor of ice cream without asking for a sample first, right? You want to make sure what you’re getting (or building in this case) is going to fit your goals from earlier in this post.

Wouldn’t you rather screw something up with three people, than with your entire company? I’m thinking yes. But you won’t screw up! Success is imminent with this employee training plan. Here’s the next step:

Get feedback

When you’re testing things out, it won’t go well. Hate to burst your bubble, but 99% of the time, things go horribly wrong. That’s where feedback is most valuable.

It’s not about your success of the program. It’s about where you can improve. What can you change to make the program better for everyone else?

Here are a couple questions to ask:

Notice how these questions don’t lend themselves to yes or no answers. That’s because yes-no questions don’t give you the feedback you need to improve your employee training.

Keep in mind, this is a small group of team members. Ask them to be honest. Otherwise, they’ll see everything went great when it really couldn’t have been worse.

What do you do with your feedback? You make changes and start your employee training program.

Take the feedback you received and put it to work.

By this point in time, you’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t. Now, you can begin to build your training program.

Here’s a quick 10-step plan to launch an employee training program:

1. Determine the structure

How do you want to build your employee training program? What does the outline look like? Start with writing down a list of outcomes – what you want your team to learn by the end of the training. That way you plan your training by unit, chapters, activities, and assessment.

2. See what resources you need

There’s a lot to pull together for employee training. Do you need people from other departments, books, conference space, etc? This list could be quite long, but writing it down should help you plan for everything.

3. Find those resources

Did someone recommend a book to you? How about the marketing speaker who did a presentation at the last business association meeting? Would they be the perfect for your training? Get your resources ready before you pour a lot of time and energy into planning. You want to make sure you have everything to pull the training off without a hitch!

4. Find a good way to measure employee retention

Employee training is useless if there’s no way to make sure your employees understanding what they’re learning. That’s why you need a way to measure how much your team remembers. Periodic quizzes are the great way to do that. With QuizPoo, you’re able to create and share your own quiz in minutes. It’s perfect for companies both large and small.

5. Find a place for your information to live (organization is key)

The cloud is a wonderful invention. Store all of your materials online and access them from anywhere. And your team can get them, too. Look into solutions like an internal wiki, Google Drive or a company-wide Dropbox account.

6. Determine incentives for training completion

As I mentioned earlier, what’s in it for them? Why should they complete the training. Even if it’s a requirement of employment, still reward them for completion. Maybe it’s a bump in pay, an extra day off, or a trip to lunch with your co-workers. Whatever it may be, the least you can do is say “congratulations!”

7. Launch to the team

With 1-6 in place, you’re ready to launch the training to your team. There’s been a lot in the works. Now, it’s the fun part. This is where you can see if the training is working and where you may need to improve.

8. Keep writing training materials

As long as you’ve got the first couple hours or days squared away, nothing says you can’t keep writing material. Write as you go along, make edits to previous material, or add-in resources from another website. With every edit and addition, you make the training better than it was before.

9. Get team member feedback (always)

As your team works through the training, whether it be a weekend-long event or just a couple hours on the computer, keep asking for feedback. That could come in the form of real-time polling, face-to-face feedback, or end-of-training surveys. Use the feedback to build a better employee training program.

10. Rejoice in your accomplishments

You’ve made it! You built a corporate training program from the ground up. It’s a lot of work, so you should be proud of what you’ve built. Sure, it’s a work in progress, but you’ll have a better team because of it.

After these ten steps are complete, you’re ready to train any new team member, regardless of what department they’re in.

Employee training programs aren’t easy to put together. They require time, money, and resources to get off the ground. Hopefully with this guide, you have a better understanding of how to build your first training program.

And now it’s time to turn it over to you: do you have any tips for making an amazing employee training plan? Let us know in the comments below.

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