Fail to prepare and you’re preparing to fail.  It’s a common phrase we’ve all heard and frequently comes to mind when I think of hiring a new employee.  All too often in our industry we give new technicians what amounts to a crash course in training before sending them on their way and expecting them to learn the rest on their own. Then when things don’t work out, we just chalk it up as the wrong person.  With talent becoming so hard to come by, it’s time to stop and revisit our preparation when it comes to onboarding new team members.

When we talk about setting technicians up for success in training, this starts with day one. The onboarding process is a key defining moment in a technician’s career at your company: It sets him or her up for future success or failure. You need to create an onboarding process that lays out clearly what the technician will need to do to be successful. At Nexstar Network, we recommend using a checklist to make sure you are delivering consistent onboarding and nothing gets left out of the process.

Here’s a few ideas of what you might consider adding as part of your onboarding process:

• Take the new employee on multiple ride-alongs. These are not only an opportunity for them to see your company procedures in action, but they’re also a chance for you to build a relationship and lay the foundation for future communication.

• Consider alternating ride-alongs with more traditional training days. This gives them a chance to reflect on what they saw and connect those experiences with what their learning.

• Create training binders that include the applicable materials for each role. However, don’t leave the binder to do all the work — not everyone retains information best by reading. Mix in other types of training to complement what is in the binder, such as audiovisuals and one-on-one discussion.

• Give quizzes every few days. These are great tools to make sure the new employee is retaining the information. If you see that they are answering the questions correctly, but don’t seem to be engaged in the training, this could point to a problem with buy-in rather than the onboarding process itself.

Onboarding processes will vary by position, but on average they should take about two weeks. Don’t sell your employees short from the beginning by failing to prepare.