Even if they come with years of experience, every new employee you hire requires training. But all too often, small business owners are extremely overwhelmed with conducting the business to come up with anything better than a “follow me around for two weeks and learn the ropes” procedure. Unfortunately, that’s both inefficient and frustrating: owners can’t delegate training if it’s not systematic, and new employees rarely know how much is left to learn or exactly what is expected of them.

A secure, effective training program doesn’t have to be over complicated. In fact, simpler is more efficient; it allows employees to focus on mastering skills instead of processing a flood of information. Here are seven essential tips for creating a quick and effective training system for your business.

Train your Trainer

First, designate who will be in charge of the training process for each job role: the business owner, the department manager, or your outgoing employee. Decide the time period of training and the details of how the responsible party should manage this process, including how much reporting you’ll want if you’re not the one doing the training. Unlike new employees, you’ll have to train the trainer once.

Make a List

Write down every element of the training to keep you on track. You should record each job’s tasks, notes on company policies and overall culture, as well as the how to’s for necessary tools. With each new hire, you’ll then be able to follow the appropriate list to complete critical training without frustration or lost time.

Some elements on the list can be self-directed. New employees can do some learning independently when they have a proper syllabus or other documentation to use. For the skills you need to teach one-on-one, take out some time during slow parts of the workday, or schedule time after work hours to complete training. Having a list enables you to estimate how much time you’ll need to set aside.

Teach What They’re Ready to Learn

Keep in mind that advanced skills build upon basic skills. Assess employee readiness, and if the foundational skills are missing, or not yet thoroughly mastered, focus on those first. Even your veteran employees can benefit from ongoing training, so be sure where they are at. Some industries, such as auto repair or information technology, offer certifications and training opportunities through their respective industry organizations. Schedule time for ongoing professional development, perhaps try rotating employees through different departments so that everyone has a chance to keep learning and growing. 

Focus on One Skill at a Time

When employees have to divide attention between multiple skills, learning is slower.

For each position in your business, list the fundamental responsibilities and knowledge required. Order the list by priority and then you can have your new employees work systematically through a training document independently. For more complex skills, have someone help them master one skill at a time through interactive, hands-on training, which tends to be more efficient than passive techniques like reading or watching a demonstration video. 

Divide Training Into Levels

Divide training into levels so employees have a specific goal to reach. Tie rewards to the increasing levels so there’s even more incentive for employees to master each training level. Other perks such as flexible working hours, added vacation days, increased leadership opportunities, or freedom to choose one’s own projects tie well to specific training achievements.

Don’t Do It All Yourself

Bring in different experts to teach particular skills or help you and your employees gain knowledge in new departmental areas. Another option is to send employees to training programs or schools for advanced training. Contact your respective industry organizations and peruse trade journals for information on certifications or training schools within the correlated industry. Your local Chamber of Commerce as well as contacts in your business network can often give appropriate recommendations for general business skills such as marketing, finance, and productivity.

Use Immersion Training

Some skills, such as communication, problem solving, collaboration, and technology use, can benefit everyone in the business, regardless of their position at work. To train your entire staff or a whole department, set aside a full day or more for immersion training. Close down the shop or do the training after-hours, so that everyone can have the opportunity to spend consecutive hours learning about and practicing the new skill. This kind of immersion training benefits new and experienced employees alike.

Both your business and your employees will truly benefit from simplified, strategic training as it is quick and and easy to digest. The more equipped you are as a business owner, the better you can train and equip your employees, streamline efficiency and overall progress.