Many businesses are hurting for labor right now. There is intense competition for bringing people onboard. At the same time, many people are rethinking which jobs they want to do going forward. They are looking for good pay, opportunity, safety, respect, fulfillment.
This means for many businesses recruiting, onboarding, and retaining employees is a major focus. These efforts need more attention and more money than before the pandemic.
Two Situations for Onboarding New Staff
For onboarding, there are two situations companies find themselves in:
- They still have a staff member in the position for which they are hiring a replacement or more team members
- They do not have staff member in that position – and hence training the new person/s is more difficult
In the First Scenario, Companies Usually Do On-The-Job Training.
The person who is still working at the company shows the new person the ropes.
- Often, this process happens 2-4 weeks before the trainer leaves the company. Sometimes, the time is longer and sometimes, it is much shorter.
- That means the training is a “drink from the firehose”, especially, if the job is more complex.
- There are always nuances that get omitted in this type of training.
- Then, since the trainer who knows about these nuances is no longer there, the company faces “brain drain.“ The knowledge is lost and needs to be relearned. Often, that is costly. For example,
- A costly mistake of the past is made again.
- Production slows down or stops because of issues noone knows how to handle.
- Projects get mismanaged and run over budget.
- Customers get unhappy because they receive lesser quality service.
The Second Scenario is Worse. There is No Trainer. The Brain Drain Has Already Happened.
For example, a few years ago, I worked with an established, multiple-million-dollar service business. They have several locations. Several of their key employees in one of their locations suddenly left and formed a competitive business in the same city. That was a real blow! The CEO who had built these locations was forced to hire and retrain new employees as fast as possible. One of the positions he needed to fill was a Quality Control (QC) person.
He had several concerns:
- How could he stack his cards in favor for hiring the right person for the job?
- The ideal candidate would be responsible for QC.
- Yet, as it turned out, that person also needed to be great at handling customers and helping the company get more work.
- What if the persons they hired didn’t work out or decided to quit a few months after starting?
- Then all the training would be for nothing, and he would be back to “square one.”
A Smarter Way of Training New Staff
That is when I shared with the CEO (let’s call him Paul) what I’ve found to be the smarter way of training new staff:
While you are training someone capture that training!
- Videoing the training is a very good -and simple – start.
- At least, then you have it for future use.
- You are beginning to reduce the brain drain phenomenon I am talking about.
In his case, we came up with this plan:
Step 1: Write a Very Specific Job Description
The first step we took was to write a very specific job description that highlights the areas of responsibility. That sounds like a no-brainer but I often see that done poorly. The idea is to make it as likely as possible to hire the right person by being specific about what the job entails.
In this case, we arrived at four quadrants of responsibility:
- QC and reduce the need for rework
- Managing Customers to make sure they are happy
- Asking for more work while being at the customer-site
- Pick up the phone and call people to get more work when there is extra time.
Step 2: Create a Simple but Effective Job Training System
The second step was to create a simple but effective job training. Since the company had not yet found the new QC person the CEO himself filled in. Paul has extensive knowledge about it since he has been in this business for 30 years.
We determined that there are six different quality inspection scenarios. I asked him to videotape himself doing these inspections using a Go-Pro camera. He commented on what he was doing as he was performing these inspections. He then sent me the videos. I converted these videos into a training system consisting of checklists, a QC manual, and training videos.
This is a perfect example of Brilliance Extraction!
What Results Did Paul and His Company Gain From It?
- He had the training system ready to train the new QC person as soon as he had hired that person.
- The company has already used the training system over and over since then to train people all across his company’s locations.
The system is getting even better over time. Each time they learn something new they cna update the training system. That way the same mistake gets only made once.
- We even extracted some tips for the technicians who did the work he was inspecting. What a wonderful (cost-saving!) side benefit! Paul and his managers are using these tips to train their technicians to do an even better job.
Paul got so inspired with Brilliance Extraction and the high ROI of it, he pursued that method all over his company.
- Their entire company’s operations become documented, streamlined, and systematically trainable.
- He got out of the business of “fighting fires” (dealing with emergencies) because the systems we jointly put in place prevented them. What a relief!
- Instead, he could focus on growing the company, training, and empowering his people. He loves that!
What are the Take-Aways?
- When an employee in your company is leaving and you have the luxury of that person training the replacement, capture that training. If you like, I’m happy to show you how to best do that. If nothing else, video it. It is a good start. You can still organize the information into a training system later.
- Be proactive about capturing knowledge and wisdom that is essential for your company or organization while you have the chance. Don’t wait for brain drain to happen (it will happen sooner or later if you do nothing).
A New Opportunity
There is a new opportunity for accomplishing what we are talking about here.
I work with companies on capturing their essential knowledge and building training systems. That way they can retain and transfer that knowledge easily. Because the bandwidth of that service is limited, my company now offers a “Brilliance Mining” course. The course teaches the participants to
- Mine (identify) the critical knowledge and wisdom (brilliance) that needs to be protected,
- Capture it and
- Make it into a knowledge transfer system.
The course is an 8-week online course. We offer it in conjunction with a 60-minute live Zoom session in a small cohort of business leaders. These sessions are aimed at further digesting the information they learned and, most importantly, participants get support to APPLY that knowledge.
Is This Method Aimed Only at Training People in Highly Technical or Complex Jobs?
No. This method applies to lots of industries and lots of different jobs.
Here are three more examples:
- An HR person in a trucking company – We are preparing the trucking company for her changing her job.
- A CEO of a software company – He is the innovator of that company’s product. – We are building a training portal that trains employees not only on the product but the workflow, mindset and culture of the company.
- A food manufacturing company – We are tackling to document their first couple of processes right now. The company is growing by 40%, and their work force spans three different mother tongues. Some of their key employees are older and near retirement. Some of the processes do not seem all that complex ast first glance. Yet, the success of the process lies in knowing the details. You lose a person who knows those details without having captured those details in a way that allows you to train someone else, you will be in pain. Loss in production and revenue w?ould be the result.
The Bottom Line
The smarter way to train employees is to use training systems that prevent the loss of critical knowledge.
Training that way is faster and less costly.
- If an employee leaves before you can hire their replacement you will be in a much better shape than you would be otherwise.
- When an employee leaves soon after starting, training a new person is faster and less costly.
- You can also develop systems that help retain employees. Thinking about retention is even more critical in today’s market than it used to be. When employees get great training they see “This is a well-organized company. I can have a good future here.” You can use these system to transfer knowledge and wisdom, including mindset and company culture.
- If you are a busines owner or leader of an organization: What type training do you use in your company or organziation?
- If you are an employee: What kind of training have you received? How did you feel about it?
P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Brilliance Nugget with others. Thank you!