Mainstream Living

Employee Tip - Training New Staff

If you’ve worked at Mainstream Living for an extended period of time, chances are that at some point, you have been asked to help train a new employee at one of your sites.  In the spirit of collaboration (one of our core values), we put a lot of trust in our Direct Support Professional to set new employees off on the right foot.  After all, having worked extensively in a direct service role with a particular member makes you an expert on what he or she needs from staff.

Training, however, is often more than just knowing what to do on the job.  There are things to keep in mind such as how best to communicate information so that people retain it, helping people gain confidence, and making sure that somebody not only knows what to do, but can actually do it.  Below are some tips that even the most veteran staff may find helpful in shadow training new employees:

Check your assumptions:
You are an expert on the member you serve.  The person you are training is not.  You may need to explain in detail things that come naturally to you, but in reality may be very complex.  Think about riding a bike.  It may be second nature to you, but if you’ve ever taught someone to do it, you realize how complicated it can actually be.  Try your best to break things down step-by-step to the most basic levels.

For example, transferring a member from a wheelchair to a bed is something that veteran
staff can do quickly and safely.  Make sure to slow down on a task like this, and take it step by step when teaching a new employee what to do.  It may seem tedious, but it will ultimately make things better for you, and for the member.

Have the trainee try it out: 
Some people can learn just by watching you do something.  Other people learn better through hands on experience.  Either way, it is important that you know, as a responsible trainer, that the person you are helping can actually do what you have shown them.  A good way to do this is to show somebody how to do something, and then immediately ask them to try it themselves.

For example, show the new employee where the laptop or computer is located. Assist the person with logging on for the first time.  Help them to navigate between the various programs such as Therap, Gmail or ADP.  After this, have them do all of these tasks independently while you sit and observe, and help with any questions or clarification they might need.

Pare down the information:
Training can often turn into an information dump.  As trainers, we often consider the process of giving a new employee everything they need to know.  However, the more a person learns, the more information they are likely to forget.  Make sure you are emphasizing the most important aspects of the job.  Train on these important aspects in several different ways.  Check to see that the  person is really “getting it” by asking questions, asking them to explain it back to you, or asking that the person tries the task independently.  Also, make sure that if a person has a question while you are not there, they know where to look, or who to go to in order to find the answer.

Use training materials that are already available:  
Remember, just because you gave someone an important piece of knowledge does not mean they will remember it.  Show the new employee where important information is, such as Emergency Call Lists, transportation phone numbers, the pharmacy phone number, each member’s personal binder, the names/locations of online materials, and any other resources.  All sites have this information, but it might be hidden behind cabinet doors.  Also, make sure the new hire knows who to contact if they have a question.  Having access to resources is just as important as having knowledge.

Do your best work while training:
The person you are training is not only learning from the things you teach them, but from the way you are behaving.  You are a role model for the new staff person, and how you interact with members and coworkers will have a big impact on how they treat others.  Sometimes the added stress of training someone can cause you to neglect your interactions with others.  Make sure that you are still giving the same attention and respect to the people with whom you work that you would normally give.  Furthermore, if you are able, give the new hire an example of going above and beyond job duties.  This type of behavior will likely stick with a new person, and encourage them to help better the lives of the members we serve.

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