How To Create A Training Manual That Your Team Will Actually Use
Your company needs training manuals. We know this because every company needs training manuals (aka educational documents) that teach employees how to do specific things.
Having training manuals in place is the first step. But creating training manuals that your team actually uses is even better.
In this article, we'll explain:
- What a training manual is
- Why training manuals are important
- How to create a training manual for your company
- Tips to make your training manuals the best they can be
What is a Training Manual?
Let's start with a definition—just to make sure we're on the same page.
A training manual is a set of instructions to help employees use a tool, run through a process, or otherwise complete a task in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Modern training manuals come in various forms: spiral-bound booklets, PDF guides, video tutorials, and online courses. We'll talk more about these different forms in a later section of this article. For now, just know that you have options for training manuals.
Why Are Training Manuals Important?
Training manuals have the power to improve team productivity, ensure compliance, increase individual employee satisfaction, and help deliver better results.
Training manuals teach people how to do their jobs. Once employees understand how to complete tasks most efficiently, they become more productive.
This is especially true for new employees. With an effective training manual, you can streamline your onboarding processes and help new hires become meaningful contributors in less time.
According to Saviynt, non-compliance costs companies billions of dollars every year. That's a lot of green flying out the window. Luckily, solid training manuals can help put it back in your pocket.
Once you outline all standard operating procedures in a training manual, your employees will know exactly what to do and when to do it. This will help them avoid expensive mistakes.
Did you know that companies with happy employees outperform their competitors by 20%? Training manuals boost employee satisfaction in two ways:
- Training manuals give employees the information they need when they need it, allowing them to complete tasks more efficiently and feel like valuable members of their teams, which is essential. Employees who don't feel valuable don't stick around.
- Training manuals reduce workloads for everyone who uses them. Your employees want to feel valued, not overworked. A training manual will teach them how to complete tasks the right way, eliminating the need to redo said tasks due to error.
What do you get when you combine higher employee productivity, compliance, and satisfaction levels? Better results in less time.
When employees know what to do, they'll be able to do it faster, reduce expensive mistakes, and enjoy their on-the-clock hours more. All of these things lead to more success. Win! 🙌
How to Create a Training Manual in 5 Steps
Now that we understand how crucial training manuals are,we need to answer the all-important question: "How do you create a training manual your team will actually use?"
Good news: you don't need a fancy degree to create practical training manuals. Just follow this simple, five-step process and you'll have top-level manuals in no time.
1. Conduct a Training Audit
Your company is built on a series of processes. The first step toward creating an effective training manual is to identify your most important processes so you can document them.
Onboarding, for example, is a fundamental process. Studies show that a great onboarding experience can boost employee retention by 82%. Improve onboarding at your company with training manuals that explain how to set up direct deposit (see an example), use software, etc.
And we all know that digital security is a big deal. To prevent breaches, you need to make sure your employees know how to minimize security risks, which you can explain with a training manual that teaches them how to help prevent cybercrime.
Once you've identified the processes you want to document, you can move to step two.
2. Choose a Format For Your Manual
Your training manuals can take various forms, from paper booklets to complete online courses. The format you choose will depend on the kind of training you're doing.
If you want to teach employees how to use a specific piece of software, for instance, we suggest creating a PDF file with screenshots or a video tutorial. Both of these formats include a visual element, which will make it much easier for your employees to grasp information.
On the other hand, if your goal is to teach employees about basic company rules and procedures, a paper booklet will suffice. (Though we still recommend having a digital version.)
Choose the proper format for each process you want to document for your company.
3. Create Amazing Training Content
Now that you've chosen a format for your training manual, you can start creating content.
Remember, employees will only use your training manual if it's easy to read, watch, or otherwise consume. Here are three ways to make sure it is:
- Avoid Information Overload: Your training manual isn't a novel. Boil information down to essential elements. Then cut the rest. This will make your training manuals easier to read and the information they contain will be easier to remember, too.
- Use Visuals When Possible: Screenshots, video clips, and other visual elements make the training process more enjoyable. They also convey information more quickly. Every training manual should include them!
- Engage Your Audience: If you really want to engage your audience (and why wouldn't you?), try gamifying your training manuals. You can do this by adding quizzes and giving employees points for answering questions, finishing sections, etc.
Time and budgetary constraints will determine how in-depth and visually-appealing your training manuals are. Fortunately, tools like Tango can help you make awesome training manuals quickly and affordably, which is exactly what you want, right?
4. Send Your Training Manual to Your Team
You followed all the steps and created a training manual you can be proud of. What's next?
First, congratulations! You just completed an important project. Now that your company has a training manual, your employees will become more productive, compliant, and satisfied.
Second, send that bad boy to your team. Then track how many employees go through it and whether or not it improves their performance in a meaningful way.
If your team doesn't use it, or worse, they do use it, but performance remains lackluster, this means you need to make adjustments. Try to explain processes more effectively. Use more visuals. Do whatever you have to do to improve your manuals.
But before you do any of these things, get feedback…
5. Get Feedback on Your Training Manual
What does your team think of your training manual? Did they understand it? Did it grab their attention or put them to sleep? Do they have suggestions to improve the content?
Feedback is hard. None of us want to hear that our manuals are less than perfect—especially if we've put a lot of time and effort into creating them. But feedback is the only way to make sure our content actually accomplishes its goal: to educate employees.
So, send a survey to your team. Then adjust your training manual(s) based on their input.
3 Tips For Better Training Manuals
At this point, you know how to create a training manual. Now we'll show you how to make it better. These three tips will turn hum-drum manuals into valuable pieces of content.
1. Make Your Manuals Easy to Access
We said it before, and we'll say it again: your training manuals will only benefit your company if your employees actually use them. To make sure this happens, give them easy access.
Did you create a physical manual? Send every employee a copy. What about PDF documents and video tutorials? Host them in a shared Dropbox or Google Drive folder that all employees can access. Full online course? Email your employees the link.
The way your employees access your training manual will depend on its format. Just make sure that the process is as simple as possible.
2. Annotate Your Visuals For Clarity
We talked about the importance of visuals. Here's another tip: annotate your visuals, so your employees know exactly what you're trying to tell them with each image and/or video.
If, for example, you're explaining how to use a piece of software, don't just say, "Click the button" and embed an image. Say, "Click the button" and embed an image that's been annotated with an arrow, pointing to the button you want employees to click.
Little things like this will make it much easier for employees to understand your training manuals. When they understand them, they'll use them more often.
3. Update Your Manuals When Needed
Your company's processes will evolve. The software you use will update, your workflows will change, and you may discover a new, more efficient way to accomplish tasks.
That's why it's vital to assess and update your manuals on a regular basis. If you don't, your manuals could hold your team back rather than help them achieve their goals.
Create Effective Training Manuals With Tango
Once you learn how to create a training manual, team productivity, company compliance, and individual employee satisfaction will improve by leaps and bounds.
The best part is that training manuals are easy to make—as long as you have the right tools.
Tango is an industry-leading documentation solution. With it, you can create detailed training manuals, complete with annotated screenshots, in minutes!