What NOT to do when training your employees – as told by The Office

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If you don’t watch The Office, you’re making a huge mistake. The hit comedy may no longer be running, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drop what you’re doing right this second to catch up on the endless laughs you’ve to this point missed out on. What’s more, despite popular belief, the Office isn’t just good for numbing your mind and making you giggle. The often disastrous antics featured in the series can teach employers exactly what not to do in the workplace. For this blog, we’ll use lessons from The Office to discuss what not to do when training your employees:

 Don’t be impatient

tra1 Some jobs require using advanced technology for day-to-day procedures. Some jobs require learning rather complex concepts before jumping into the action. Other jobs aren’t so demanding, but onboarding nevertheless takes time and patience. When training your employees, make sure to ease them into their new positions. If you pressure them – or worse, if you belittle them for onboarding slowly – then you’ll not only break their spirits, you’ll impede them from maximizing their potential.

Don’t be intimidating

tra2 It’s inevitable that new employees undergoing training will require a point of clarification here and there. It’s important to create a training atmosphere in which these onboarders feel encouraged to ask these questions. If critical inquiries aren’t asked during training, time and energy will be wasted seeking clarification down the road. How can you encourage questions? Don’t be intimidating! It’s easy to get impatient, and it’s easy to get frustrated. It’s very, very difficult to keep perspective and remember that you, too, were once an employee-in-training. Step into your new employees’ shoes and try to understand their struggles. If you succeed in doing so, you won’t scare them off.

Don’t lie to them

tra3 Some parts of training are difficult. For example, if your job requires the use of Salesforce and you’re entirely unfamiliar with the SaaS application, it’s understandable that you’ll need time to fully onboard. It would be extremely damaging to the morale and confidence of new employees if they were led to believe that they shouldn’t struggle to learn new practices and applications. If something is going to be difficult, an employee-trainer should make that clear. It’s critical that no new employee is left feeling inadequate or incapable of doing something they’ve been led to believe is easy, but in reality is quite complex.

Don’t bore them

tra4 Do you want your new employees to remember what you’re teaching them? Do you want them to be excited about their new positions? Well, then it’s your responsibility to avoid boring them. There are more innovative, engaging ways to train your employees than a bland PowerPoint presentation. Try live demonstrations, video tutorials, and other presentation applications that allow for more creativity. Your new employees will remember the things that leave lasting impressions – a black and white PowerPoint presentation will almost certainly not do that.

Don’t be condescending

tra5 Respect is earned. Being superior to new employees may mean you have a hierarchical advantage over them, but that superiority doesn’t necessitate employee respect. If you don’t treat your new employees with respect, they’ll be far more likely to tune you out. Be humble, be personable, and make sure to avoid speaking to them in a condescending manner. Employee training is a tricky craft to master. I could write for months about all of the things you should do when onboarding fresh employees. But I find it equally effective to discuss what not to do when training your employees. I told you – depending on how you watch The Office, it can give you a lot more than mindless giggles!
Jason is the Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog. Jason established the Training Station blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to training, learning and development.