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Tips for Training a Newbie Who's Slow to Catch On

Training new employeesThere are quick learners, average learners, and those that "just don't seem to get it." And if you fall into that latter category, nobody's going to tell you to your face (unless they're asshats whose main goal in life is to make you feel like sludge). No, most people are more considerate than that. Instead, they'll complain about you behind your back until you finally figure out how to do what you've been hired to do. I've listened to plenty of complainers — from my teenage pizza house days up to where I am now — and I admit I've also voiced my own share of annoyances.

So what can you do if you're a quick learner stuck training a new hire who seems to take forever to catch on?

  1. Practice patience. Remember: There were times when you were the newbie, too. Recall how hard you worked to make a good impression and prove to your new employers they hired the right person (not to mention how good you felt when you didn't have to ask for help anymore). So allow a little extra time and patience when you're teaching the new hire. While you probably have a million other things to do other than train a new employee, set some time aside to make it your number one priority.
  2. Create cheat sheets. To make your life (and the new hire's) easier, write down repetitive processes on step-by-step cheat sheets. They'll serve as learning tools and instant reminders so the newbies don't have to come running to you if they forget what happens next.
  3. Reassess your expectations. Sometimes new hires just don't get it, no matter how many different ways you try to teach them. So you exhaust yourself with repetition and begin to wonder how on earth you learned everything so quickly and this guy is taking forever. Now stop pulling your hair out and digest this fact: Everyone's learning curve is different. Hopefully, when you hired him, you established your time frame expectations. For example: You expect him to have X process down cold within three weeks. If that time limit has passed and he's still struggling, reevaluate your expectations, determine if it's truly him, or (gasp!) your teaching methods that are the root of the problem. Then address it accordingly.

And consider this: If management asked you to do the training, there's a good chance they see you as a good mentor, or think you have potential to become a manager, yourself. If so, this could be an important opportunity for you, too. Teach your newbie in a way that you would want to be taught, ask for feedback on your teaching methods, and keep in mind that training is temporary. You'll survive!

Are there any proven, sure-fire ways for teaching new employees the ropes? Give your advice below!

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