For seasoned administrative professionals, training others to do what they do can be a challenge. But there are a few foolproof tips you can use when you have to train a temp, a new hire or even your own replacement. Follow them to ensure you don't leave behind a trail of unanswered questions -- or unhappy bosses.
Create a Lesson Plan
Before you start a training session, sit down and write out lesson plans for each training day, suggests Jennifer Star, copresident of the Jennifer Group, a New York-based recruiting firm specializing in administrative support staff. "Training should be well-thought-out in advance so everything is covered," Star says. "That is why in school there is a curriculum that is followed; you don't just go to school and the teacher walks in and says, ‘So, what do you want to learn today?'"
Make It Interactive
It is also important to take some time to get to know your students, says Bill Knox, a mentor at Washington, DC-based Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE), a resource training center for future executives. "Knowing your audience makes you a much more effective educator," he says. "Ask your trainees questions, and encourage them to question you."
Knox suggests trainers should determine what their trainees already know, what they've been good at it in the past and where they've had problems. "This will help you know where to place your emphasis and where you can go relatively quickly through the procedures," he says.
"Teaching is dynamic, and should always be a dialogue and not a lecture," says Knox. "People learn by doing, not by hearing about doing, so trainers should try to get their trainees to participate as much as possible." Knox suggests admins should have their trainees accomplish the tasks they're being taught while the admins supervise.
Mind the Details
Be sure to cover the smaller tasks you may take for granted as a long-term employee; they may be foreign to a newcomer. For instance, what is your company's shipping account number? Where do you go when the postage meter runs out of money runs? If the temp or replacement will be answering phones, make sure he knows who will be covering for him when he needs to take a break.
Don't Forget the List
"A list is a very important training tool, and will be the only thing left with your trainee once you're gone," says Star. Give your apprentice lists of important phone numbers, email addresses and pointers to remember. Even if such information is available in soft-copy form, give him a hard copy so the information is readily accessible and he can hit the ground running.
Stay in Touch
If possible, schedule time after the training ends to be available for questions once the newcomer takes the wheel. "This is the best way to help the trainee get through trouble areas that you might not be aware of until they actually start to function in the position," says Knox.
Many admins move into the training field. Apply the above guidelines successfully, and you might find a new career for yourself.