Beginning a job with a new company typically comes with some sort of training. Formal training might include participation in a uniquely crafted experience with other new hires or even a self-taught course to learn the required information about the new company or position. For many businesses, training manuals are the primary formal tool that is used to teach and train their newest employees.
But the development of training manuals is often up to a manager, HR employees, or a knowledgeable, trusted worker, although very few actually have experience creating training manuals. So let’s look at 10 ways that you can develop quality training manuals to use with your business for years to come.
Basics Elements of Training Manuals
Those who want to create quality training manuals will want to first consider the content that needs to be included in the manual that will help new hires, support ongoing training initiatives as well as provide a clear and easy to read presentation of the company and its policies and procedures.
Regardless of the role-specific training information, every training guide should be created to positively represent the company and its mission with an organized, well-thought-out book full of information to help employees begin their positions with the knowledge they need.
1. Clarify Employee Expectations and Disciplinary Consequences in Training Manuals
One of the key elements of quality training manuals is that it provides answers to common questions that new hires have about their new company. And while the focus of the manual should be to prepare employees for the job that they are beginning to do, it should also clearly lay out how they are expected to fit into the corporate culture as well as what happens when they make a misstep.
Breaking a rule or not meeting expectations is manageable for the employee and management when everyone is on the same page about the expectations and disciplinary consequences for doing so. Clear, straightforward information about what the company expects of an employee can begin to build trust in the employee-employer relationship. And presenting these expectations in training manuals provides a way for businesses to convey this information in a way that is concrete and transparent to all new hires.
2. Employ Graphics
Crafting training manuals that are entertaining and engaging is a lot easier when you use graphic design elements throughout the book. A business’s brand provides an obvious opportunity to use graphic design, but when developing a training guide from scratch, remember that graphics can be used to represent connections, provide data, and inject a little humor as part of a professional training tool.
- Graphics can demonstrate routines or expectations within the manual. The use of a flow chart can show employees what a workflow should look like, or a schedule can provide a framework for new hires to understand what a typical day, week, month, or quarter might look like in this job.
- Graphic elements can depict the hierarchy within a company. Instead of describing who reports to whom with lengthy explanations and confusing verbiage, a simple visual can explain how a company is structured to new employees. This type of information can easily be adjusted over time as management roles are changed or new leadership positions are integrated into the company.
- Visual representations of tasks can be included to simplify the learning curve for new hires. Simplifying the sales cycle, for example, with graphic design elements representative of each stage can make teaching a new employee how to move from making contact to closing a sale much more straightforward.
3. Give Detailed Job Descriptions
Not only should your manual provide employees with information about their own job expectations, but it is also a good idea to give them a complete job description of their role and the expectations that come with it at the company.
This detailed accounting of what they will, can, or might be doing gives them the best possible picture of what their potential work will look like. And including this information means that workers who know what their role should be may be more likely to meet those expectations since they know exactly what their new role entails.
4. Provide Corporate Context in Training Manuals
A manual also gives companies the perfect opportunity to fill in new employees on the history of the company and any key information that they need to know. While this information might be incidental and not directly related to performing the job’s tasks successfully, employees who see they are a part of a meaningful organization may feel more personally invested in their work in the long run.
Telling new hires about those who have come before them, the compelling story behind the founders, or the “why” behind the business can foster engagement and begin to build a relationship with the new employee. This corporate context can be helpful and necessary for some new employees to fully become part of the corporate culture as well. Some critical information to include is:
- A timeline of key milestones for the business with explanations, photos, or other documentation provided to give new employees a good understanding of the company’s history
- The company’s mission or vision statement as well as any guiding principles that direct the focus of the company
- The names, photos, and bios for all C-suite employees and the Board of Directors members
5. Use Legally Required Language
Your manual may also come with safety instructions to help keep employees and customers or clients safe while they complete their job tasks as well as details that will protect the company from legal consequences.
OSHA mandates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration require that job descriptions and safety information be presented in easy-to-understand language and accessible vocabulary. Check with your business’s specific legal requirements to make sure that your training is compliant with these legal requirements.
6. Utilize Easy-to-Read Fonts
One way to make sure that your manual is visually pleasing is to use a combination of fonts that are proven to work well together. Using one singular font throughout the book can be monotonous while switching up the font style can increase engagement by creating a visual change in the text or provide a consistent method of accenting important information in a longer section of text. Some popular text combinations to try are:
- Cambria and Calibri
- Palatina and Helvetica
- Times New Roman, Arial, and Lucida Typewriter
Ways to Make Training Manuals More Effective
The purpose of a manual is to train new employees how to do their job. And while this content-specific area may be the focus for creating training manuals, those writing the book may not have deep experience creating this type of critical document.
Our final four tips (with one bonus thrown in) will help you formulate and execute the part of the training manual that will be unique and specific to each type of position in your company as well as provide a few hints that will help you finalize the content as a whole.
7. Check with HR
Before your training manual goes to the printer, make sure that you run the content by the HR department. They will be able to give you an all-clear or make suggestions on any information that may need to be reworded, included, or left out of a training manual from a legal perspective. Since HR professionals are knowledgeable in employee-company communication, they can alert you if any of your training manual content could potentially cause a problem.
8. Create Interactive Portions
Make sure that your training content is interactive so you and your employees will be able to self-assess their knowledge levels before, during, and after training sessions. Include activities like quizzes, surveys, or Q & A sections that will keep learning on track and let you know when retraining is necessary.
9. Include a Table of Contents
Since training may take place over more than one session, including a Table of Contents will save time and reduce frustration during an already stressful time for employees.
10. Edit and Revise Carefully
When creating training manuals, it is always a good idea to have more than one set of eyes look over the final draft before sending it off to the printer. In addition to an HR professional, invite a trusted professional or another manager-level employee to look over the draft for revisions to the content as well as edits that will fix small errors in spelling, sentence construction, and word choice.
Bonus Tip: Partner with a Trusted Printing Company
Creating training manuals is a critical task that can provide key information to new employees as well as become a long-term resource for management to utilize for all levels of employees when developed thoughtfully with evergreen content. And businesses that partner with a respected printer like Dazzle Printing can be sure that their final product will look fantastic and will be constructed with quality materials to last for many years. If you need a training manual printed, be sure to check out our printing services.