Training staff properly is crucial for any business owner and key to getting the most out of employees. Making a cohesive training document can be challenging, but it is vital to get it done right. Taking the time to plan and organise the training document is crucial, as is fact-checking all the information provided. The document will also need to be updated regularly as business processes change.
Plan The Layout
Jumping straight in with writing the document can be tempting, but this is most likely to result in a haphazard document. Planning what the document will contain is critical to ensure it makes sense to the reader and includes all the most crucial information. Starting with a brief outline can be the best option, giving a structure to follow as the detail of the training document is written.
Mind-mapping the training document with employees can be beneficial, as everyone will have a unique perspective on how to set out the information in an easily digestible way. Employees should be consulted at all levels of the planning and writing process for accuracy and consistency.
Don’t Skip Steps
Some steps may seem obvious or common sense, but they should still be included in the training instructions. The best way to avoid doubt or mistakes is to be clear in the content. It may help to look from the perspective of a new starter who knows nothing about the business.
Include A Table Of Contents
For the training document to be useful, people will need to know where they can find the information they need the most. A table of contents is a must, with the pages labelled for all the different chapters and subheadings so that finding the information required is simple for employees. Including an index can also be beneficial, particularly for longer texts with a lot of information included.
Make One Central Document
If there are already a lot of training materials available, it is a good idea to combine these into one document. This can make accessing the information easier and avoid the risk of important steps being missed from the training process. Knowing how to merge multiple PDFs can make the process
of collating the information even easier.
Get Input From Members Of The Team
While it is usually a member of upper management that writes training documentation, it is crucial to get input from the whole team to ensure the information is correct. Asking individual heads of departments to write their own sections for a training document can be beneficial. Talking to the people doing the jobs currently can be invaluable to ensure the information in the training manual is accurate.
Ask For Feedback
Getting feedback from team members that have used the training manual can be a great way to improve the document. Including an evaluation at the end of the training can be helpful to see what notes the new team member has—making the assessment anonymous can be an excellent way to ensure an honest answer.
End Chapters With A Summary
Ending each chapter with a summary of what has been said can be a good way to ensure the information is properly absorbed by trainees. It can also be a helpful refresher for anyone going back over their training.
Avoid Using Long Blocks Of Text
Long paragraphs are notorious for leading to lowered focus and concentration in readers. Splitting text into bite-sized pieces can be the best way to help trainees absorb the information and stay focused and motivated. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any paragraph longer than four or five lines. The more succinct the information provided, the better for retention and comprehension.
Include Other Media
Everyone learns differently, with some people being visual learners, others auditory, kinetic or reading-based. Covering multiple media forms can be a great way to ensure that all people who use your training materials get the most out of them. Making a series of narrated podcast-style recordings can be a good option, as well as video training resources to demonstrate different processes.
Update The Document Regularly
Keeping the document regularly updated is crucial, as things can change often and quickly in a working environment. Having a set employee in charge of reviewing and updating the document can be beneficial. At a minimum, it should be updated before it is used to train new starters. It is also a good rule of thumb to update the document entirely at least once per year.
Nothing but solid text for pages and pages can cause fatigue and loss of concentration for those reading the training materials. Including images can be a good way to split up information and provide a visual element to the text. Ensure that the images are of good quality and relevant to the information provided.