When we change a procedure, we know that simply making a decision and communicating it won’t get the job done. In-person and email communication of the change is important, but stopping there can lead to confusion. Documentation and training are the missing link. This is not newsworthy of course, we all know that documentation and training are important, but all too often they are an afterthought and then either aren’t done well or aren’t done at all. That’s not fair to our employees and it won’t get us the results we were targeting. The key to effective documentation and training for procedures is to plan for it early and include it in the budget or timeline from the beginning.
Make it real: Invest in documentation and training
Put it in writing.
We make sure to clearly document the procedure. Putting something in writing ensures that everyone is on the same page. If the procedure is new, creating a new document may be more obvious. However, we put just as much importance on updating existing documentation when a change is made to an existing procedure. We plan for time to create or update the documentation no matter how small the change and then carefully put the right people on the job. We know that if we don’t, it will end up as a side-of-the-desk task at the last minute and the documentation won’t be clear and easy to follow.
After the documentation is final, we make sure our employees are given time to read and study them, ask questions, and then sign them. Using a signature creates a more solid agreement and gives the employee a very specific chance to clarify any outstanding questions.
Get hands on.
People learn best by doing, so we aim for hands-on training whenever possible. If the change is big enough to warrant training, we plan for it and provide enough time for employees to learn before implementing the procedure day-to-day. For smaller changes, this may mean just making sure to update existing training materials.
Training environments give people a chance to make mistakes, ask questions, and become familiar with the changes. Our employees often catch improvements or issues during training so that we can tweak the change and avoid a problem, so we always stay open to adjustments. Invest the time and money in your training budget and it will pay off when your employees are able to hit the ground running with the new procedure.
These two points have a common thread, they all stem from a respect for our employees and an understanding that putting time in to document and train is absolutely necessary to implement change and expect success.
Do you have any stories about documentation or training for new procedures? Additional guidelines on how to do it right? We’d love your input in the comments.