Three Tips For Creating A Training System Focused On Communication

Larry Alton

When onboarding employees, the strength of your training system determines how well they will adapt to your business environment. If a new hire fails to integrate, it’s not always their fault. Sometimes, employees who don’t make the cut made mistakes that stem from improper training.

New hires absorb the information they’re given but also mimic the behavior of their trainers, including their communication habits. If a trainer doesn’t embody the communication they teach, it could sabotage a new hire’s chance of making it past probation.

Here are some tips to incorporate communication into your training system.

1. Teach your trainers to embody policy through non-verbal communication skills

A person’s ability to train is equally important as the quality of your training materials. Your trainer(s) need to have high-level communication skills – both verbal and non-verbal – in order to train thoroughly. For example, say your trainer is sitting in a conference room with a new hire and another employee barges in to ask a question. How that trainer responds will tell the new hire how they should respond in a similar situation.

If the trainer allows the interruption, no matter how small the matter, the new hire will get the idea that it’s okay to interrupt people. If that new hire later interrupts the wrong person and gets fired, nobody will realize that habit may have originated from their interrupted training sessions.

Train your trainers to embody what they teach, including maintaining boundaries for communication. If you’re training employees not to “shoulder tap” others randomly, those boundaries should be enforced and not just an idea on paper.

2. Train new hires to communicate in a digital world

In the digital world, communication is delivered and received differently than in the physical world. “Virtual settings magnify poor delivery skills,” training experts at Mandel explain. “It’s the #1 reason why Web meetings and webcasts have earned a notoriously bad rap.” As an example of this virtual breakdown, Mandel describes a situation where one of their best trainers took a short call with a potential client. When the call was over, the client didn’t think their trainer had the “right energy” for the team and wanted another recommendation.

The trainer who took the call consistently received praise from clients, but on a phone call failed to convey their high level of expertise and competency to a client. Why? Virtual and face-to-face dynamics are different.

To fully empower a new hire, you need to train them to adapt their delivery to a virtual environment where the dynamics are different. As explained in the article linked above, successful virtual communication relies on the following:

  • Maintaining good posture even when you can’t see who you’re talking to
  • Using pauses to pace yourself and avoid words like “um”
  • Using eye contact through virtual video; although you are only looking at the camera’s lens, the other person will perceive you are looking into their eyes
  • Using gestures intentionally, even if people can’t see them, as this keeps dialogue smooth
  • Speaking clearly and slowly
  • Projecting conviction and confidence

3. Train your trainers to teach active listening

Nearly all new hires will come to your company with enthusiasm, and you don’t want that to fade. Nothing destroys enthusiasm faster than situations where a new hire’s voice is dismissed.

Active listening has 13 fundamental components outlined by Psychcentral.com. These fundamentals include restating and summarizing what you’ve heard, asking questions, and validating a person’s point of view. Active listening also involves avoiding roadblocks like asking “why” questions that make people defensive and adding quick reassurances that dismiss the issue, like “don’t worry about that.”

Training your employees to be active listeners creates a strong team dynamic that will make new hires feel valued from the start. It’s a communication style that asks clarifying questions instead of making assumptions and leads to a person clearly understanding a problem before responding or reacting to it.

Training involves more than policies and procedures

A strong training system should focus on more than outlining company policies and procedures. By integrating communication skills into your training, your new hires will pick up the non-verbal habits of high-level communication.

You might think your training program is air-tight, but when it comes to training, there’s always room for improvement. If you haven’t added communication skills to your training system, now’s the perfect time.

For more insight on building a climate of open communication and trust, see The Importance Of Team-Building In A Data-Driven World.


About Larry Alton

Larry is a freelance marketing & technology consultant with a background in IT. Follow him on Twitter @LarryAlton3.