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How To Train New Employees: The Onboarding Guide for 2023

How To Train New Employees: The Onboarding Guide for 2023

Tango-branded colors backdrop with an illustration to describe how to train new employees as the hero image.

As a training manager, what brings you the most joy when onboarding a new hire?

a) Helping them learn key processes

b) Seeing them succeed in their role

If you can't decide between the two, welcome to the team! 

Effective training has all kinds of benefits beyond helping people find their footing and empowering everyone to do their best work. It can also lead to faster ramp up times, higher competence (closely linked to confidence), better decision making, and increased productivity. Fun fact: Having a strong onboarding process can increase your team's productivity by up to 70%

But to reap all the benefits, you can’t take just any old approach to training. Want to learn how to train new employees effectively? Follow these steps to build a training program that will help them learn fast—and get your next new hire up to speed: 

  1. Start before their first day
  2. Establish an onboarding plan
  3. Use a new hire checklist
  4. Have SOPs handy
  5. Teach about the company's culture
  6. Personalize training
  7. Take advantage of tools and automation
  8. Review expectations
  9. Introduce a buddy program
  10. Use a knowledge base
  11. Check in on them
  12. Ask for feedback

Let the training on how to train new employees begin!

An overview of the 12 steps on how to train new employees including how much time it takes to complete each.

1. Start before their first day

The key to training a new hire starts way before their first day. And because training is also about planning, the first step is to get all your ducks in a row. 

This means updating SOPs, creating a training calendar, and making a checklist of tasks your team needs to handle.  

For each person joining your team, you should prepare: 

  • A checklist of onboarding documents to review
  • A list of procedures they need to know
  • A training schedule
  • A document with roles and responsibilities
  • A cheat sheet with tools they'll need

Once these are set, why not make your outreach more personal? Write them a welcome email, including details like working hours, parking instructions (or login instructions for remote workers), and what they should expect on their first day. 

2. Establish an onboarding plan

Here’s the second of many hot takes. You don’t need to have your headcount for the year in hand to start building an onboarding plan. Do it once and do it well, and you’ll have a rock solid foundation to personalize accordingly. 

While onboarding plans should ultimately be tailored to suit individual jobs to be done, your goal should be to standardize as much employee training as you can.

If you approach it thoughtfully, your onboarding plan will be a mostly plug-and-play process—so you'll always have a good sense of how to maximize your new hire’s first few days, at a minimum. 

Structure your onboarding plan to include training, company information, and meet-and-greets. You can streamline lots of decisions during this time, including: 

  • How you'll welcome your new hire to the team
  • Who will be responsible for training
  • What the training schedule will look like
  • Which meetings they'll need to attend

Diversifying your training strategies means everyone can learn in the way that benefits them the most. Creating an onboarding plan that considers all learning styles, like process documents for those who prefer reading and meetings for those who like to be face-to-face, will also help you meet people where they are. 

3. Use a new hire checklist

Who doesn't love a checklist? Checklists help you and your team stay on the same page, making sure nothing slips through the cracks. 

Create a checklist with everything your team needs to complete beforehand, like: 

  • Sending a welcome email
  • Gathering login information
  • Pairing new hires with mentors
  • Setting up profiles
  • Scheduling meeting times

Then, assign each task to team members involved in the new hire training—from the IT department to direct managers. 

4. Have SOPs handy

You likely have a lot of different processes in place, and you want the new team member to know them inside and out, too. That's when standard operating procedures (SOPs) come into play. 

Developing SOPs builds a culture of documentation and helps teams save time. Needless to say, your new hire should have easy and immediate access to the keys to the castle. 

Organize all your SOPs into a readily available folder and then show your team how to find what they need. This way, everyone can focus on what's important: getting their work done. 😉

5. Teach about the company's culture

Unlimited PTO, weekly virtual coffee chats, team building activities—every company approaches culture differently. Waste no time welcoming your new hire to your team by sharing your rituals, traditions, favorite Slack emojis, running jokes, etc. 

Decoding and sharing your company culture means new hires will know what to expect from the first day and beyond. Tell them about benefits and perks, communication norms, and how to request time off—plus any cool things your team does after-hours. 

Set up a meeting with your new teammate to go over:

  • Time off
  • Breaks
  • Mission and values
  • Special projects
  • Clubs and organizations

Note: You’ll need to do more than talk the talk. Walk the walk from Day One by welcoming new team members with a virtual lunch break or sending them a welcome box with fun treats.

6. Personalize training

Having a standardized training process is great. Having a personalized one is even better.

A personalized new employee training plan makes everyone feel special and gets people up to speed faster. Planning training ahead of time also allows you consider your new employee's priorities and learning styles. 

Examples of how to personalize your training program depending on the role you're hiring. ‍

Start by asking team members about things they liked and disliked when they went through new employee training. Think about ways you can improve the process based on their feedback to streamline training for the next new hire. 

Then, tailor your training employee training strategies according to your new hire’s specific role and preferences by considering their skills and what they already know. The important thing is to keep training engaging, not boring!

💡 Tango Tip

Ask about your new hire’s preferred learning style so you can tailor training specifically to them.

7. Take advantage of tools and automation

Creating a training program shouldn't be too time-consuming—after all, you probably have many, equally pressing goals to tackle. 

Luckily, there are lots of different tools to automate new employee training, so you can focus less on mundane tasks and more on building relationships and removing blockers for your team. 

When building a new employee training plan, think of ways you can make things a little easier. For example: 

  • Are you spending a lot of time on training meetings? Consider an onboarding software that gives new hires a self-paced training program. 
  • Do you spend a lot of time creating training materials? Try a tool like Tango that automatically creates how-to guides as you work. 
  • Do you find it hard to locate training materials? Build a central learning hub that houses SOPs and process documents so you can easily share them with the team. 

Planning a training program is about keeping things streamlined and organized so you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time someone new comes in. 

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8. Review expectations

When a new hire comes in, they likely won't know what to expect. Walk them through goals and expectations to guide them in the right direction. 

Explain the training process and what they should expect during the first few weeks until they’re more familiar with their roles. Then set up a meeting to:

  • Walk through a training cadence
  • Explain roles and responsibilities
  • Set short-term goals
  • Go over long-term goals

This way, new hires will be set up for success from the get-go.

9. Introduce a buddy program

A mentor or buddy is one of the greatest resources your team has. This person  knows the ins and outs of the role, how to streamline tasks, and how to add to  the company culture. 

Not only that, but they can act as a bridge to help new hires build relationships with everyone around them—just like your first friendly face in the office did way back when.

Assign a buddy or mentor to each new team member, and have them schedule meetings to: 

  • Get to know their new teammate
  • Chat about the company culture
  • Encourage relationships with other team members
  • Walk them through tasks and tips

10. Use a knowledge base

Knowledge is only valuable when it's shared—and if people can find it. 💡

Create a knowledge hub with training documents, SOPs, process documents, and anything else your team needs to know. Keeping all training documents in a single place will help new hires easily find the information they’re looking for.  

In the short term, new team members can learn how to use your knowledge base and how to find answers to questions. In the long term, this means you won’t have to answer as many repetitive questions. We call that a win-win! 

11. Check in on them

You've checked all the initial boxes: You built an effective new hire training program, helped your new teammate make connections, and gave them a roadmap to success. Now it's time to show your (ongoing) support. 

When a new member joins your team, they might feel hesitant to bother you with questions. Implement a no-dumb-questions policy on your team, and look for cues to get ahead of any troubles they might face. 

You can (and should!) check in weekly to dig into any processes that are still confusing and create a safe space for them to ask questions. 

Lastly, keep track of their progress and note areas where they may need further support so you (and/or their mentor) can help guide them in the right direction. 

12. Ask for feedback

Feedback should be a two-way street, so ask new hires for their opinion on the training process, too. Since they’re the ones going through it, they’ll likely have a good idea of what works and what doesn't. 

Throughout their onboarding stage, ask questions like: 

  • Is there anything missing from your training?
  • Are there any areas with unclear instructions?
  • Did you find any tasks difficult to complete?
  • How has the learning process been for you?
  • Are there different ways we can teach you?

Once they finish training, ask for feedback again. You may also want to send them a survey and document their answers. 

Listen to feedback with an open mind, then optimize your training process to benefit new team members joining your team in the future. 

Mistakes to avoid when training new employees

When you're training new hires, you'll likely run into a couple of bumps on the road—and that's totally normal. 

But to avoid running into too many bumps, watch out for these common mistakes.

An overview of the dos and don'ts of training new employees. 

Here are some mistakes to avoid and what you can do instead: 

  • Outdated documents: Update training documents regularly to avoid confusion and mistakes. 
  • Information overload: Break down your program into smaller sections (microlearning is all the rage for a reason!) and avoid back-to-back training—with some fun meetings sprinkled in now and then. 
  • One-way conversations: Designate someone to be available to answer questions, and ask new hires for regular feedback. 
  • Book learning: Give new hires a chance to “learn by doing” instead of only reading training manuals

The more you improve and develop your training program, the more interactive and effective it'll be.

The bottom line

Training should be an engaging, enriching process for both you and your new hire, so choosing a thoughtful approach for how to train new employees is key.

If creating training materials is your least favorite part of training new employees—it doesn't have to be. With the right tools, creating process documents will bring you as much joy as helping a new team member succeed.


Why is training new employees important?

Training new employees is a big part of setting them up for success and boosting retention rates. During new employee training, you can share things like company values, how to succeed in their role, and how to be more productive.

What are the steps to train new employees?

The steps to train new employees are: 

  1. Start before their first day
  2. Establish an onboarding plan
  3. Use a new hire checklist
  4. Have SOPs handy
  5. Teach about the company's culture
  6. Personalize training
  7. Take advantage of tools and automation
  8. Review expectations
  9. Introduce a buddy program
  10. Utilize a knowledge base
  11. Check in on them
  12. Ask for feedback

What are three ways in which new employees can be trained?

The three ways to train new employees are role-specific training, shadow sessions, and job mentoring. Role-specific training is any training that teaches new hires how to do their job. Shadow sessions allow new hires to follow someone along and understand how a task works. And job mentoring gives new hires a chance to connect with more experienced team members and learn from them.

When should new employee training begin?

New employee training should begin on their first day or week on the job. But planning for employee training starts even before their first day, as managers should prepare materials to ensure new hire success.

How can I make new employee training enjoyable?

You can make new employee training more enjoyable by breaking training down into sections, allowing time for new hires to connect with other employees, and making training interactive.

How do I know the new employee training is effective?

You’ll know if the new employee training is effective by performing pre- and post-training assessments, scheduling one-on-one discussions, and asking for feedback.

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