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Train, train ... and train some more!

I’ve always been a big believer in the idea of hiring smarter (not faster) and I feel this philosophy is equally important when it comes to employee training. Even if your new team member is clearly “the one”, a lack of training will set them up for failure, result in turnover, and set you even further back than square one … not only will you have lost your new team member, but you’ll risk turnover in your training staff, as well, due to unrest over time “wasted” on someone who left and the hours and effort (not to mention distraction) it will now take to train a replacement.

It takes a lot of patience - yours and your staff’s - but will pay off in the long run. Every organization should have, at minimum, a training checklist to onboard a new hire. This is easily handled by human resources, but what about position-specific training? While there are many factors to consider in this regard, some quick tips are:

  • Have a “template” training manual for every position. Whether it’s an outline, PowerPoint, or something else, ensure that every detail of the role is covered.

  • Adjust this template to the new hire, based on their strengths, weaknesses, and past experiences. For example, if someone is unfamiliar with your specific IT systems but you still feel they’re suited for their role, increase their training with your IT department.

  • Set clear expectations, both for your trainers and your trainees. Let everyone know what is expected in terms of time commitment, follow-up, and take-aways. Provide a detailed schedule to everyone ahead of time, so they can prepare to ensure minimal impact to the day’s productivity.

  • Have supervisors follow up regularly and check in with trainees daily. Any errors in the training should be identified and corrected immediately; don’t be shy to give your trainees verbal “pop quizzes” or ask for written summaries of a training topic. While you don’t want to overwhelm, you do want to ensure the training is effective.

Last, but not least, I also stress the importance of cross-training (once an employee is fully established). This is particularly relevant for house call practices, which often operate with a leaner staff and might have single-person departments. It’s a good rule of thumb to cross-train as many employees in as many areas as is reasonable … there’s no point in asking your decidedly non-clinical scheduler to field triage calls, but your reception staff and scheduling staff can learn each others’ duties and the administrative portions of the clinical staff’s roles. If your set-up will allow for it, regular “job swapping” is an effective way of maintaining cross-training. Have your scheduler and your receptionist switch jobs for a half-day every other week, so their knowledge stays fresh.

The obvious benefit of this is ensuring that if an employee is absent or leaves unexpectedly, you have someone who can quickly fill in and minimize impact to patients and referral sources. The less considered upside, though, is increased staff satisfaction. If you have limited roles within your organization, cross-training is an effective way of developing employees, which leads to greater job satisfaction and lower turnover.  Not only will you allow your staff to develop new skill sets, you’ll reduce boredom for those in repetitive roles by allowing them to step into someone else’s shoes now and again.

It takes a great deal of time, effort, and patience … but giving training (and cross-training) the importance it’s due is better for everyone in the long run!

Thanks for reading,

Jenn