Orientation & Training
You have recruited and selected your new employee but your role as Employer is not finished. In fact it has just begun! Properly orienting and training new hires is an essential part of human resource management, especially for a small business. Failure to provide adequate training can lead to poor performance and/or job dissatisfaction – both of which lead to staff turnover. You have likely spent a great deal of time and effort on the hiring process. Do you want to be doing the same thing time and time again to replace someone who doesn’t work out? It is imperative you set your staff up for success in order to see performance results. Orientation and Training is a big part of that and is a responsibility that you as the Employer must own. A well planned and executed training and orientation program sets the stage for employees to have a positive and productive experience. Think about your first day on a job before you were a Chiropractor. Were you confident about performing well or were you nervous about meeting expectations? Were you provided with information and given the tools to succeed or did you stumble along the way and learn for yourself? Did you know where everything was located or did you feel embarrassed asking where the office supplies were kept? Do not assume that new employees come to work on the first day understanding all that needs to be done and how to do it. Do not take the perspective of “he or she will catch on quickly”. You are only going to do yourself a disservice. Investing time in orientation and training is guaranteed to decrease confusion, expedite learning curves and increase productivity and satisfaction for both you and your new employees.
Orientation should not be mistaken for the same thing as Training. Training is specific to the job being performed, therefore it will be different for each position. Orientation is the delivery of more general information that has to do with the practice and how it is run. It provides an overall picture of the business and covers basic information that usually applies to everyone.
Orientation should include:
- History and background of the business; any vision, mission statement, etc.
- Acquainting the new hire with the clinic layout – location of washroom, kitchen, office supplies, etc.
- Introduction to other staff
- Review of all of all policies and expectations including hours of work, breaks, dress code, safety and any other expectations
- Review of any benefits such as vacation, sick days, health care benefits and any discounts on services
- Review of pay and pay schedule
- How to operate technology and equipment (alarm, photocopier, computer, telephone, etc.)
- Set-up any access cards, logins, passwords, etc.
- Performance Management – discussion about how performance will be measured and evaluated; frequency of performance reviews (usually annual), eligibility for salary increases, bonus potential, etc.
- Invitation to ask questions. It’s important to answer any questions and develop open communication from the start
- A manual or handbook that captures all of the above in addition to important terms, administrative procedures and best practices. Ask existing staff for their input. What information would they have found useful when they started?
The Clinic owner or whoever runs daily operations should be the one to conduct the Orientation. Being clear about what is expected from the very beginning reduces the potential for misunderstandings and sets both you and the employee up for a smooth transition.
Training is essentially teaching someone how to do a job. No matter how well somebody performs in an interview or how great the references may be, it is unrealistic to believe that all new employees have the abilities and skills necessary to do the required tasks to your standards. What you have hired in the candidate you selected is skills, qualities, attributes and work experience that will help the person learn the job and perform it well once they know it. However you need to ensure they are taught the job to begin with.
One-on-one training is the most effective way to teach a new employee a job. Keep in mind that people learn differently. Some people learn best by hearing (i.e. verbal), some by seeing (i.e. watching) and some by doing (i.e. hands-on). An approach to training that integrates all methods is recommended. For example, the employee can watch the trainer as he or she demonstrates the steps to perform a task and explain how each task is used and relevant to the business. The employee then has the opportunity to perform the task, ask questions and receive feedback from the trainer.
It is incumbent on the owner of the clinic to be involved in the training process in order to achieve maximum effectiveness. In some cases the owner may be the trainer. In others he or she will select someone to do the training. In this case, considerable time must be spent training the Trainer. Do not assume because someone has been with the practice a long time or because they are a high performer, it means they are a good trainer. Invest the proper time in training and you will be sure to reap the rewards.
Eight Step Plan
Follow the 8 step plan below for an efficient and effective training program. If you heed these suggestions, you will be setting your staff up for success!
1. Define learning outcomes
Identify what tasks or skills the new employee should be able to perform once the training is complete. Include factors like speed, volume and any other measure of success. For example, you may expect a minimum number of appointments to be scheduled each day. Also think about how you are going to measure patient service. Are you going to solicit feedback from clients and staff or are you simply going to observe? If you choose to observe, what behaviours will you be looking for? This determines what and how you need to train. Once the learning outcomes are determined, document what steps or procedures need to be communicated and have any materials ready for training.
Prepare the new employee. Explain why the skills/tasks being taught are important and what common problems are likely to be encountered (as well as how to deal with them). This information is also good to have in a training manual.
3. Select the right trainer
Invest time in training your staff or training the trainer and you will reap the rewards. It is incumbent on the clinic owner to be involved in the training process in order to achieve maximum effectiveness.
Employers do not always select the right trainer. They often select someone who is available, accessible or convenient. Be sure to select someone who intimately knows the job or the tasks being taught. Selecting the right trainer is critical to the new employee learning the job the right way. You may have different people train on different areas if that makes sense. Invest time in training the trainer so you only do it once!
Explain each task thoroughly and break them down into small parts or steps. Most new employees find learning several small tasks easier to digest. This information should also be documented in a training manual.
Demonstrate the task or skill to the new hire. Involve the employee by asking him or her questions and have the new hire explain the process or skill back to the trainer.
Give the trainee the opportunity to perform the task or practice the skill. Make sure the new hire performs each step correctly and avoid short cuts or bad habits.
One of the most important parts of the training process is feedback. This is an opportunity to assess how much of what has been taught has been learned and understood. It is also a chance to praise what the person has done well and correct and identify areas that still need work. In addition to verbal feedback, you can monitor progress by developing a check sheet with each of the job tasks listed. On a regular basis (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly), go over the sheet with the new hire and update his or her progress. This is valuable feedback for you on how long the learning curve takes when someone new comes on board. It is also good information to have when evaluating the person’s performance.
Remember that feedback should be a two way process. Encourage new hires to ask questions and share their feedback on what has been taught. A new employee can bring a fresh perspective. Getting the new hire’s feedback on the training process is also recommended so you can make continuous improvements going forward.
The last step in the Training process is follow-up. From hiring and selecting to onboarding and training, you have invested a great deal of time and effort in your new employee. Employers often make the mistake of thinking their job is done once the person has been trained. It is important to stay connected through post-training check-in meetings to assess how the employee is performing and how comfortable they are feeling in the new job. Once the employee is settled, you can consider cross-training or introducing additional responsibilities.
Be sure to document the individual’s progress along the way. Since the person is new, you have no measure of previous performance; only how well and quickly he or she has progressed since the time they started.
Training and Best Practices
- Develop a written training manual that includes job description, reference information and specific steps on how to perform the job. It is important to have a sustainable training resource when the Trainer is no longer there.
- Select the right person to do the training, not necessarily the person who is most convenient.
- Appoint a ‘buddy’ who can be a resource for information and questions. Starting a new job is overwhelming and not everything from Orientation and Training will be retained.
- Provide a friendly and relaxed training environment that is conducive to learning.
- Allow some latitude in the pace of learning new tasks, especially when different people are teaching different tasks.
- Integrate a variety of methods to teach information. Some learn by hearing, some learn by seeing and some learn by doinDon’t micro-manage. It may seem like it expedites learning but it decreases confidence and fuels frustration. Give the person time to learn properly and don’t have unreasonable expectations regarding time frames.
- Don’t compare new hires to previous or existing staff. Remember that other employees have been there for months or sometimes years. They’ve had way more time to learn how things work.
- Postpone any cross-training until the person has demonstrated they can effectively perform their job.
- Engage in some personal discourse. Ask the new hire about his or her hobbies, interests, family, etc. This helps promote an inclusive workplace and makes a person feel welcome.
- Provide feedback, both positive and constructive. Positive reinforcement leads to confidence.