This being the third week in January, many people are making resolutions to improve their lives. While many people want to get a new job for the new year, just as many want to get a promotion at their current job. Knowing how to create a training guide can assist you on that quest.
In 2019 I took it upon myself to create a comprehensive training guide at my current workplace, because 1) I saw the need for one, 2) the current training guide was not kept up-to-date, and 3) the department used too much “tribal knowledge” which I later discovered was incorrect or misguided in certain procedures. Maybe you realize this pain point in your department, but don’t know how to go about creating a training guide. Or maybe you need pointers on how to update your current guide. Continue reading to learn how to create a training guide.
How To Create A Training Guide Step #1: Determine Which Program To Use
Before you get to writing, you first need to determine the program you will write and store the training guide. This is going to depend on what software you have available, and how your department and/or workplace shares documents and procedures.
At my workplace, we use a combination of Google Docs and Confluence, which is a collaborative workspace program. I’ve used both programs before at other jobs so I was well-versed with each. However, I decided to use Google Docs to write and store the training guide because it was 1) easier to type out the steps and 2) create the navigation guide.
But you don’t need either of these programs to write your guide. You can use Microsoft products like SharePoint or Office 365. And if you’re an open source software follower, LibreOffice is a great option.
How To Create A Training Guide Step #2: Determine Where To Store The Guide
Again, you can’t get to writing yet because you need to determine where to store the guide. Many people save documents on their work computer, and that’s fine at first. But I highly suggest you save and work on your guide from your workplace’s shared online space.
Why? Because this protects against accidental deletion and/or file corruption. Your work computer can be damaged or stolen or suffer a software mishap. If your employer performs data backups, that’s great, but those usually only run once a day. You can lose valuable material!
In addition to that fact, using a shared online space allows you to get feedback from other coworkers or your boss. When I wrote my guide in Google Docs, I shared access with my management and other interested coworkers. And the program allows you to set permissions when you share a document. In my case, I set it where people could comment. That way they wouldn’t change my guide but could offer suggestions or ask questions.
Finally, if you leave the company for any reason, usually the IT department will still have access to those files. So if your former manager wanted the guide, he or she could get it from the IT department.
Step #3: Write The Training Guide
This step will probably take you the shortest or longest time, depending on what task or tasks you’re documenting.
When I created my guide for my workplace, I created an outline first and then added the details. This works best because you can write down the steps for a task in correct order, but you don’t get distracted by writing out the details for each step.
Now if you have links to other information available on the company’s Intranet or Internet which would be helpful, add the links into the document.
This also applies to screenshots, as these provide much more information than text. Now your work computer should have some type of screenshot program already installed:
- Windows: Snipping Tool
- Mac: Grab
- Debian Linux: ScreenShots
- Red-Hat Linux: Screenshot
If you use screenshots in your guide, I suggest adding captions either before or after the picture.
Step #4: Get Feedback From Your Team
This step can be combined with the Step 3 because you don’t need to have the guide completed to show it to your team for feedback.
Many people are afraid during this part of the process because 1) they are afraid to show their work to others and 2) they anticipate negative feedback. But don’t be!
This step is important because your team can point out steps you’re missing or actually learn something from your guide. When I shared access to my guide to my team many people offered good feedback, constructive criticism, and learned something new from the guide.
Step #5: Release The Guide
After receiving feedback from your team and implementing any changes, now it’s time to release the guide for the team to use!
Now you will probably have to work with management where and in what medium to deploy it. Some workplaces like printed documentation while others do a combination of printed and online training guides.
But don’t think your work is done after deployment. You need to update the training guide whenever new tasks are added to your department, or tasks are removed. Even if your department doesn’t see any changes, you should review your training guide at least once a quarter.
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