The Fastest, Simplest Way to Train New Hires


New hire training time is unproductive time.

The new hire doesn’t yet have the skills to do their job. Someone else must take time away from their day-to-day responsibilities to train the new person. 

That puts you at least two people down at a time when you hired an extra person because you needed extra help.

It can be tempting to cut corners and provide too little training. This can be dangerous.

I recently wrote a blog post describing what happens when new customer service employees aren’t fully trained. It told the story of Jesse, a new employee in a bagel shop who felt lost because she didn’t get enough training before being asked to serve customers.

Some companies overcorrect and provide too much training. This can be wasteful.

One of the services my company provides is helping clients develop effective new hire training programs. I’ve helped clients reduce new hire training time by as much as 50 percent with no decrease in performance. 

The secret is creating a laser focus on giving new hires the specific skills they need to succeed at their jobs. Any topic that didn’t help them do their job was eliminated.

So, you don’t want to cut corners on training. You also don’t want to waste time and money. And, you’re not an expert in adult learning theory. What do you do? 

You need a performance checklist.


The Magic of Performance Checklists

Most training programs are doomed to fail. That’s because the emphasis is placed on what the trainer will tell the trainee. 

The result is a lot of aimless wandering and blah blah blah.

An effective training program focuses instead on what the trainee needs to do. The trainer creates clear objectives and then works backwards to figure out how to help the trainee accomplish those goals.

The easiest way to capture this is by creating a performance checklist.

A performance checklist describes a set of actions that a trainee must successfully complete to do their jobs correctly. The trainee isn’t fully trained until they complete each item on the list.

The best part is you should already have one. 

Think about the performance standards you have in place for your employees now. Chances are, there’s already a checklist of some kind involved. 

Here are some examples:

  • Mystery shopper checklist
  • Call quality monitoring form
  • Service standards checklist
  • Performance evaluation
  • Standard operating procedure checklist

Whatever you use to describe good performance, that’s your target. Get your new hire to perform at that level and they’re trained.

Now, all you need is a little bit of planning to make it happen.


Creating Your Training Plan

Once you’ve identified the performance checklist that will guide your training, you’ll need a plan to get there.

This involves breaking down the checklist into specific steps or lessons. By virtue of being a checklist, this may already be done for you.

Let’s say you want to train a new server in a restaurant. Your handy list of guest service standards (a.k.a. performance checklist) doubles as a lesson plan.

  • Lesson #1: Greet guests
  • Lesson #2: Suggest a specific drink
  • Etc.

The key is the new hire must demonstrate good performance to complete each lesson.

So, to complete lesson #1, your new server must demonstrate the ability to greet guests in a warm and friendly manner. You don’t focus on lesson #2 until lesson #1 is complete.

It may seem a bit simplistic, but that’s the idea. Breaking down training like this makes training easier for the new hire. That, in turn, makes good performance easier.

Getting your new hire to deliver good performance quickly is the ultimate goal.