Training: The New Hire

YOU’VE HIRED A NEW, somewhat “green” technician for your fleet. You probably told him at some point that you are dedicated to training and growing your own. Is your training structure up to the task?

By now, you know that offering new hires a career path with defined training and advancement opportunities is a great way to retain good people. Setting up a structure for self-study, classroom/hands-on and on-the job training is the way to get there. Make sure you have most, if not all of the courses in place and documented before putting the structure together.

BEFORE THE FIRST DAY:

Make sure you are prepared before your new employee arrives for his or her first day by organizing self-study courses, “show the ropes” sessions, and schedules for initial meetings with key personnel, such as selected coaches/mentors. First impressions on the job are important to show new employees your commitment, and helps them see that they made the right choice in joining your fleet team. Something as simple as assembling an “orientation packet” can go a long way toward creating a positive image of your fleet organization.

Don’t just send the employee off with a stack of books, tapes or eLearning materials to study. Schedule each piece of the orientation puzzle as tightly as possible, with periodic checks to ensure the new hire is aware of the purpose for each learning item.

CONSIDER PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE:

You may need to customize you new hire’s learning, based on whether you are hiring someone right out of a vocational school or from a previous job. While either may need certain levels of both soft skills and technical training, the one from a student background may need additional learning surrounding the work environment. Communication and organizational skills can be crucial to a young technician surviving—and later thriving—in the whirlwind of day-to-day shop activities.

Your approach to teaching or acquiring employee training in these areas can be critical. It is wrong to expect a new employee to develop a professional attitude in the shop environment if you are not professional in your plans to ramp up the employee.

WATCH OUT FOR OVERLOAD:

Doing maintenance work on a schedule can itself be a lot for new employees to manage, and the amount of policies and procedures alone that they have to learn in the first few days on the job can be overwhelming. So be careful about piling too many learning items into the first few weeks. Intersperse self-study, targeted coaching and follow-up with the maintenance tasks you want the employee to perform. If seminars away from the shop are part of your plans, make sure the new employee has some time to apply that learning in a job situation—and get feedback—before sending him off to more training.

NO TWO ARE ALIKE:

Like snowflakes, no two employees are the same. Each is motivated by different factors when it comes to work, lifestyles and career aspirations. Find out what gets that employee out of bed in the morning. Discuss their learning preferences, and customize your training and coaching approach as much as possible to those preferences.

CONTINUOUS FEEDBACK:

Follow up as much as you can and as soon as you can after an employee performs a new or unfamiliar task. Employees may not actively seek advice or approval, but they need it to continually improve. Rigorously adhering to the learn-work-feedback triangle can uncover skill areas that require further coaching, practice or additional training.

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