Picture this scenario:
It’s your first day at a new job. Your boss or HR department head hands you a huge binder and says, “Here’s everything you need to know.”
What expression appears on your face as you flip through the hundreds of papers with very small print?
In the spirit of “Love Thy Employee as Thyself,” here’s how to write an effective training manual that will help your employees (calmly and happily) learn how to excel at their jobs.
Yes, this blog was entitled “How to WRITE a Manual,” but recorded videos can be an enormous learning aid. (There’s a reason why “Show and Tell” has a “Show” part.) Videos give your employee the opportunity to watch someone actually implementing and doing what she needs to do.
Additionally, your employee can re-watch the videos while/after she performs the task in order to check her work, eliminating the need for her to constantly check with you/other co-workers if she is doing it correctly. Here is a great review of some free video editing options. Pick the one that is right for you.
PowerPoint Presentations can be incorporated into training videos, contain videos, or stand on their own.
Presentations help keep the viewer’s attention. To maximize their ability to hold attention and get points across:
Finally, we’re actually talking about writing! But don’t write paragraphs and paragraphs on policies and procedures. That is boring and will make your employee’s eyes glaze over! Nothing will go in, which will defeat the whole purpose of an instruction manual.
Writing a manual should be like designing a PowerPoint presentation:
Here’s a useful tool to create illustrations for your manual (and these instructions are an example of using illustrations!):
How to Use the Snipping Tool on your Computer
These instructions are for people using a PC and Windows 10. (Mac users should check for a parallel tool on their computer.)
Once you have turned your computer on, in the bottom left hand corner of your toolbar, you should see a box and in it is written “Ask me anything”.
In that box, type in Snipping Tool. You will see the Snipping Tool come up as a choice. Click on it. Once you do, you should see the Snipping tool icon come up on your toolbar.
Click on it and you will see this appear:
Click on New.
Move your mouse to where you want to start snipping. Your mouse will become a + sign. Click on your mouse and drag over anything you want to snip. Once you let go of the mouse, your snip will be created and you will see it in the snipping tool box where circled.
You can then save it in a folder and/or paste it directly into your manual. You do not even have to Copy, you can just Paste.
As said above, these Snipping Tool instructions are actually an example of an image-heavy manual. I used pictures for each step, and minimal wording to explain whatever wasn’t obvious from the picture.
A great way to see if the instructions make sense is to either try them out yourself (trying to imagine you’re seeing it for the first time), or (even better) ask someone else with no experience to try them. Watch and see which parts they perform easily and which parts confuse them. Ask them for their feedback, too.
Making a great manual or presentation takes time and effort, but in the long run your new employees will learn faster, more independently, and with gratitude for not being handed a huge binder filled with very tiny print.
Submitted by Debbie