August 3, 2020
Succession Planning 04 March 2020
How to use Succession Planning to Train New Hires
Craig Middleton
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It might be contrary to popular belief, but a company’s greatest asset is not the current value of their shares, how many followers they have on Facebook, or their commercial real estate portfolio – it’s their workforce. Employees are the ones who keep companies running, which is why properly preparing them is one of the most important things you can do for your business. 

Effectively training personnel is very important for the organization. Clearly you will want to provide them with all the tools and resources they need in order to perform successfully. You also want to make sure they know all the appropriate rules and regulations so you can adhere to any human resources policies and also maintain legal compliance. Receiving a comprehensive orientation and getting properly trained is especially important to your new hires.

Training and career development opportunities are powerful components for both recruitment and retention efforts, and more importantly, it helps increase workplace satisfaction rates. By combining succession planning together with training programs, you can effectively create a career pathway for your new employees to plot their long-term trajectory within your company. Adil Ashraf, Head of HR at MotionCue says,

Succession planning helps employees with growth opportunities and promotions. It also shows that the company they are working for is committed to their success. We provide training and development opportunities to these employees, so they have career advancement to look forward to. It boosts the overall company morale and employee engagement. 

Most employees say that if their employer provides high-quality training, they are much more likely to stay with that employer. A full 87% of millennials say professional development or career growth opportunities are very important to them in a job. Offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current position. However, if that job lacks growth opportunities and avenues for leadership development, 67 percent of millennials would leave that position. 

For these reasons and more, you want to take the time necessary to develop an effective program. Here are a couple of tips for bringing on new staff that might help ensure a positive introduction to your company.  


Establish a Strong Onboarding Program

The importance of a good onboarding program cannot be overemphasized. Onboarding new candidates should have a clear order to it and the vision of that role for you and the candidate will help determine the success of your company.

This process is instrumental for both the individual and the organization’s success, and since it only happens once, you really want to make a good first impression. An employee’s first day on the job is an opportunity to set the overall tone of the workplace, establish expectations, and introduce them to your company’s unique organizational culture. 

Studies have shown that a positive onboarding experience helps reduce personnel turnover. In fact, new hires are 69% more likely to stay at a company for 3 years if they were a part of a well-structured onboarding program. 

Low turnover rates help maintain organizational productivity and increase the quality of your employees as they improve their skills and familiarity with your company and its product/services.

Onboarding is also a way that you can ensure workplace compliance from the very beginning of a person’s employment. It can be really tempting to put paperwork off for another day, but it can be a serious problem if someone’s I-9 form isn’t on file if an auditor unexpectedly shows up. 

A friendly and well planned first day on the job will help lessen your new employees' anxiety. You’ll want to make sure someone's first day on the job is as seamless and welcoming as possible. Whatever you do, don’t just sit them in front of a computer and tell them to read all of your company’s policies.   


Start Off Slow

As most everyone can attest, starting a brand new job isn’t easy! A person’s first day on the job is usually filled with many mixed emotions. They’re excited to start, but they’re also nervous. They’re probably preoccupied with wanting to do a good job and making a favorable first impression. On top of all of that, they’re going to be taking in a tremendous amount of information, everything from the names of colleagues and where to find files to remembering passwords and finding the break room.

One of the most important things you can do for a new hire is to start things off slow and try not to overwhelm them. You don’t need to tell them everything on the first day, and in fact, you shouldn’t. They’re not going to remember everything they’re told on their first day. Try to parse out important orientation information over the first week, ideally in one-hour increments. 

When employees see that they are learning, growing and advancing, they will be more inclined to stay loyal. Remember that this isn’t a race, and it’s important to do it right! Your new hire will hopefully stay and work for your company for a long time to come. You want to think of this as an investment, so take your time with it.


Combine Training with Succession Planning

Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing employees to assume the responsibilities of important roles within the organization. Organizations can use succession planning to ensure all key roles within the company will be filled.

Succession planning for each role in your company ensures that you have someone well-trained to fill an empty position if someone is promoted to a different position or suddenly leaves the company. It eliminates overburdening staff with extra responsibilities when someone leaves, and it can also save you a tremendous amount of money – up to half of someone’s annual salary, in fact.

Work together with new employees to establish a career pathway with the purpose of filling positions higher up in the company. This pathway will begin to prepare the employee to someday be promoted into key positions. It's important to get the employees' input at this step to make sure that they are fully committed to the pathway as well. Adrienne Cooper, Chief People Officer of FitSmallBusiness shares some benefits of using this strategy:

Employees can see the skills needed for role progression, and managers can be clear in giving feedback to the employee about those skills. This really helps empower employees to map out career paths that are of interest to them with their managers and guide their personal and professional growth. It also supports our internal philosophy of promoting from within as much as possible and shows the employees we are invested in their success. 

Career pathways will not only establish a road-map for long-term growth opportunities but also provide a foundation for future employee training and development. All of this leads to improved engagement and a generally positive feeling about working with the company.


Customize Your Training based on Role and Employee 

Your staff plays many different roles in your company, so it should go without saying that they shouldn’t participate in the same classes or workshops. It’s perfectly reasonable that all company employees would participate in standardized training requirements. 

Use career pathways to help you determine what trainings should apply to each employee. Make sure that trainings are customized and relevant to the people who attend them.

For example, all employees should probably take the same sexual harassment courses, but you shouldn’t have your engineers in the same customer service workshop as your receptionists.

Speaking of customer service, if a staff member will be directly involved in working with the public or your client base, you need to make sure they know what’s most important to the people they are serving. Not from an employer perspective, but from what your customers feel is important. Staff may know how to work an operating system, but if they weren’t educated about the company’s loyalty program it could create a very negative interaction.

Also, don’t forget that there are four different kinds of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. 

  • Visual learners appreciate pictures, diagrams, and handouts, and they also need a little more time to process information. 
  • Auditory learners prefer lectures and conversations. 
  • Reading/Writing learners gravitate towards the written word. They can read an article and absorb it with ease. 
  • Kinesthetic learners learn by doing things. They like to experience things, rather than read or hear about them. 

People take in information in different ways, and it’s important to keep that in mind so you can determine how best to present your materials – and hopefully create different formats of the same information whenever possible. Even better, involve your colleagues with different learning styles to help you prepare materials for those kinds of learners. If you prefer to read and write, you might struggle with how to prepare charts and graphs to relay information.


Assign a Task

New employees are usually eager to get started, but a lot of managers don’t give them any work assignments for a couple of weeks. There’s a common philosophy out there that managers should give people an opportunity to “soak everything in” and ease people into assignments slowly. 

Unfortunately, a lot of new staff are eager to get started and if they don’t have any actual assignments, they might feel frustrated or disheartened because they’re not producing anything. Most people like the feeling of accomplishing something. Also, as you read above, some people learn better by doing (the kinesthetic learners). 

It doesn’t need to be a difficult task; and in fact, you should probably keep it pretty simple. Whatever it is, though, it’s a good idea to have a tangible assignment that you can hand over so they can feel like they’re a contributing member of your team. 

At this stage, it can be beneficial to pair your new hire up with a mentor to help them with the task and provide answers to questions. The mentor can be someone who has completed the pathway previously or in a role that the new hire can be trained to fill one day. 


Conclusion

Staff are critical to the operations of any company or organization. Taking the time to make sure you have a positive onboarding program and create effective educational material is tremendously important. Properly training new employees is one of the most important things you can do for your organization. It will take time, but it’s time well spent. 

Again, your staff is your most important organizational asset and you want to take the time needed to make sure they’re set up for success from the beginning.  



Craig has worked in health, real estate, and HR businesses for most of his professional career. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in Marketing. When he isn’t writing or working at his many businesses, he’s spending time with his wife and three children.