“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, you need a team.” ~John Wooden
That old concept in educating children, “it takes a village to raise a child” is something that I believe we could all think about more in the context of training new-hires within our organizations. Yes, you need a robust training program. Yes, it is best to have a specialized trainer. And yes, your involvement as a leader is a great way to show new-hires you are engaged. But what about what happens when they get out of the classroom? What about when they are dealing with their teammates and not a trainer or leader? Sure, many of us have given thought to this transition, but have you thought about leveraging the “team” as an extension of training and leadership?
First of all, there are several things we know fellow employees impact significantly when it comes to new-hires:
Environment – As a leader you can talk all day long about the culture in your organization, but the “rubber meets the road” when someone is sitting amongst your team all day long.
Advice – Training is great, but there are so many real-world bits of advice that just don’t seem to make the cut when training schedules get created. These come up once the trainee starts interacting with people in a “live” environment.
Support – Once the trainer is gone and the leader is in a meeting, who do you think is there to help your new-hire with whatever situation pops-up. You guessed it, the team.
So the question gets posed to us in leadership: How can you leverage the above employee impact areas to create momentum in training? Two things jump out ahead of any others; Communication and Giving Ownership:
Ahead of time – Your team loves to be “in the know”, so ensure that you have introduced the new-hire(s) to your team the week before their first day. Let them know who they are, what their background is, and what area they will be working in. This is also a good time to go over expectations you have for the team (keep things positive, be patient, be a resource, etc.) so the environment that the new-hire experiences matches your expectations. This is also a great place to solicit feedback on what will be taught as our environments are ever changing and the training material needs to change in step with it.
During training – Getting your current team members more involves in training by letting them know what is being covered and by making time within the training schedule to introduce the new-hires. We’ll talk about getting your team into the actual training of the team in the next session. Ata bare minimum they should be kept abreast of the training schedule. This helps them keep an eye out for great examples to show the new-hire(s) when they show up in the department.
After training – Just like a project, there is a lot to be gained from a “lessons learned” session following training. Be sure to include both your prior team and the new additions. It’s here where you will hear about any shortcomings, or just as likely, areas that didn’t need to be covered. By meshing these two together you can keep training changing without necessarily adding time.
Bring them into training – A great way to introduce your team to new hires is to actually bring them in to train a piece of the job duties. You can take volunteers for those who would like to do this, then have them sign up for certain sessions. Now this would require the actual trainer to go over the material with the team member to ensure all of the material is covered, but letting them ad-lib a little is a nice break for the new-hires as well.
Take training into the real world – The next step to the above is working scenarios in the real world. This spices up training and gives your team another chance to introduce themselves to the new-hires and gives everyone a preview of what is to come when training is over.
Set up experts for follow-up – Once training is complete it is a good idea to have subject matter experts in certain areas that the new-hires know that they can go to with questions. This gives a further “pat on the back” for members of your team that probably would have already assumed this role and allows you to structure it for maximum benefit.
If you don’t bring your team into the training process you create a rougher transition for new hires, the possibility of mixed messages, and miss out on the opportunity to kick start both the new-hire and the team. When you choose to bring your current team into the process you increase their skillset, empower them to take ownership, and set up a structure that benefits everyone in the department. So don’t leave training to the training department, bring everyone into the process because it is going to be everyone working together that moves the organization forward.