Training Others in Just Ten Minutes a Day so You Can Free Your Time and Grow Your Business

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on November 09, 2010 in: Delegation for Success, Tips in 10

One of the reasons I’ve observed that businesses struggle to be successful is because their team isn’t all rowing the boat in the same direction. Frequently, the business owner is so busy themselves that they don’t have time to train other people. And, even though every entrepreneur knows that training others will free up their time, it can be difficult to set aside the necessary time for training.

In this article of Tips In Ten, I’m going to give you some basic steps to train others without spending more than ten minutes a day. Even if you don’t have staff yet, you might some day. Or, you’ll soon have an assistant or virtual assistant to train. Or perhaps you’ll outsource to someone and you want to give them a rough idea of your business. And, this might even work when putting together some instructional content for clients, too. So this issue is about “training” but it could relate to training anyone.

There are just four simple steps that you can do and most of the time it will take just ten minutes to put this together. In some circumstances where it will take longer, you can break it up over a few days. However, if you regularly train people and you get into a pattern with developing this kind of training, you probably won’t take more than ten minutes anyway.

Before I start, I want to give you a couple of ways to deploy your training. There’s no need to get fancy but you should use something that works for you. Depending on what you’re comfortable with, you might want to do:

  • Written training (i.e. in Microsoft Word or some other word processing program).
  • Audio training (where you record your voice talking to the trainee). If this is your preferred method, your computer probably has a standard “sound recorder” program in the Start > Programs > Accessories menu. Or, a free audio program I really like is Audacity which allows you a lot of freedom to record and edit sound.
  • Video training (where you record your voice, your face, and perhaps a screen-cap video for the trainee). If you want to record your voice and face (and a whiteboard or other visual aid), you can just use your computer’s built-in camera or an inexpensive computer camera. If you want to record videos of what’s on your screen, Camtasia is really good.

Feel free to use a mixture of these three different types of training media, depending on what you are trying to teach. If you are trying to teach a program that has a lot of detailed things to do, Camtasia is great. If you want to give audio instructions about how to answer a telephone, audio is good. If you have some basic concepts or a training about a simple website, a written document (with images) is fine. Once you’ve made all this training, be sure to store them in one convenient place with obvious names so your trainees can access them later.

Here are the four steps I recommend for your training:

Step 1: Give them the bigger picture. (Duration: 1 minute)
This is so important and often ignored! Most trainees will do a much better job at whatever you are showing them if you just tell them why they are doing it and how it fits into the bigger picture. If you are teaching them to use Twitter on your company’s behalf, for example, don’t just show them the technical aspects of tweeting; instead, start them off by briefly explaining why Twitter is important and how Twitter fits into your company’s social media marketing strategy. You don’t have to spend long on this, just a moment to tell them why it’s important.

So you might say, “We believe that social media is a powerful way for businesses to interact with customers and we’ve chosen Twitter as one of our social media tools. You will be tweeting on behalf of our company to share our brand with our followers.”

See how easy that was? It only took a moment and it gave a nice, clear picture about Twitter’s role in the company.

Step 2: Give them the highlights. (Duration: 2 minutes)
Next, you are going to just hit some of the important things they need to know. It doesn’t have to be very detailed (you’ll get to that), but it should give them an overview of what they are doing and how they are doing it. I like to think of it like this: In a moment, you are about to give them the detailed instructions but first you are going to give them some key things to remember so that when you touch on those things in the detailed instructions, they will jump out.

Just keep it really simple and quick with bullet points. Keep it to ten or fewer highlights.

To use the Twitter example again, I might say: “You are going to spend ten minutes a day interacting with followers on Twitter using a combination of tweets, retweets, replies, and direct messages. You’ll also be actively following other people. What we are looking for is an engaged audience who thinks of us as the experts. And we always want to make sure we are engaging our audience and not just promoting ourselves.”

I wrote that as if I was doing an audio or video but you could easily arrange those into about half a dozen bullet points for a Word document. Now, when the trainee reads this and reviews the detailed part (in the next step) they will recognize the important parts that you want them to cover.

Some other valuable items to cover in this section:

  • If you are measuring them on something, tell them what the measurable is.
  • If there are several ways of doing something, tell them that and point out which way you are showing them.
  • Tell them whether you are giving them a general overview as a guideline or a strict “must-follow” step-by-step system.

Step 3: Give them the details. (Duration: 5-8 minutes)
If you’ve done the other parts, this is going to go quickly and easily. Just show them how to do what you want them to do. Keep it simple. Make it step-by-step. Go through the material quickly but be mindful that you don’t blaze through so quickly that they will miss important parts.

If you are going to use a Word document, use screen capture (Press “Control” and “PrtScn” at the same time and that will copy a picture of your screen to your clipboard, then you can click “paste” in your Word document and the image of your screen will be pasted there).

If you are using audio or video, speak naturally and clearly into the microphone and jot down an outline before you start so that you don’t ramble on beyond your time limit.

There’s no reason why you can’t spend more than ten minutes but here’s what I find: You are already busy and don’t have a lot of time, but the only way to train your staff is bite the bullet and take the time to train them. So if you take ten minutes now to get them started, and you take ten minutes later for some intermediate training, and another ten minutes down the road for advanced training, that’s probably going to be easier to carve out of your busy days than half an hour all at once.

On the odd occasion, you might need to create something that takes longer than ten minutes. If that happens, break it up over a couple of days so that it doesn’t become a time stealer for you. In general, though, you should adequately cover a lot of material even if you restrict your time to ten minutes.

Step 4: Help them troubleshoot. (Duration: 1-2 minutes)
In some cases, I’ve found that a troubleshooting training session is worth ten minutes all on its own. But there are times when you only need to spend a moment or two helping your trainees avoid disaster. Give them a couple of the top things to watch out for and ways to deal with it. Then point them to a resource to get more information if they need it. If I was going to add some troubleshooting tips onto the end of my Twitter training, I might say something like, “Make sure you don’t explicitly sell our services while using Twitter because that’s not what it’s for. And be careful when you click on any shortened URLs; don’t click on them if they aren’t from a source you recognize.”

There! You’re done and it only took ten minutes. Now you don’t have an excuse not to train your staff to do the work that will be truly helpful to you! Just take ten minutes a day to create some training and your staff will be able to take on so many more projects, freeing you up to focus your attention on other aspects of your business.

Heather Recommends:

I love working with coaches, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to help them become more successful. If you'd like to improve your business, find out how I can help.

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