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How to Create a Training Manual that Actually Works

The sneaky secret to being able to scale your business efficiently and rapidly lies in how well you are able to train employees.

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Systems are what enable you to scale a business efficiently. A critical component of developing systems for your business is creating training manuals. 

A training manual is the documentation of something step by step. You can think of it as the instruction manual for a specific job. 

So, what jobs need instruction manuals? Well, all of them. If you ever find yourself doing a task or process more than once, you should know how to create a training manual for it. 

The majority of the tasks you and your employees do are routine tasks that should be systematized. This may sound overwhelming, but you won’t create training manuals for every task at once. Start with the tasks that are done the most often, hourly or daily, and go from there. 

You’re going to be investing time and perhaps money to create training manuals, but you will save yourself much more time and money if you do. It’s not hard, but you have to put in the work. 

Because of this, knowing how to create a training manual is a step that a lot of businesses don’t utilize, but it’s the only way to eventually scale. Scaling your business means putting the proper systems and people in place so your business will eventually reach the point where it runs without you. You want to get there, don’t you? 

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Why Your Business Needs a Training Manual… for Everything 

Just like someone would go to Google Maps to find out where the nearest Starbucks is and how to get there, or go to Youtube to learn how to change a flat tire, your employees will go to a training manual to know how to accomplish a task correctly. 

A training manual is a “How-To” guide. And your business needs a “How-To” guide for every job. 

How You Can Benefit from a Training Manual

Training your employees is critical to the success of your company, but it can require a big-time commitment from you or the trainer. This ultimately takes away from other important tasks you do that move your business forward. 

You can spend less time training employees in new roles and focus more of your time on the bigger picture if you develop training manuals for each and every job. 

Think of it this way: If one of your employees leaves the business and you hire someone to replace them, the new hire will better understand the job at hand with a training manual that guides them with step-by-step instructions and dictates the expected result.

Not only that, but the training manual will also enable them to accomplish the job with greater precision and success. 

Training manuals simplify the onboarding process for new and promoted employees, reduce the chance of error, and set clear expectations for specific jobs and functions. They enable you to create systems that produce more efficient and consistent results that eventually allow you to scale your business. 

You can’t create systems without training manuals, and you can’t scale without systems. 

How to Create a Training Manual

How to Create a Training Manual in 7 Steps

The biggest part of building a system that works is creating a training manual. A lot of businesses end up skipping this step because it requires time and energy on the front end. On the back end, though, you will make up for the time and energy spent 100-fold. 

I’ll walk you through how to create a training manual in just seven steps. Once you learn how to write a job description for each role, you’ll be able to implement a “how-to” training manual for it. Then, you can use the same process over and over again until you have “how-to” manuals for every job in your business.

1. Define Your Objective

Remember, if you do a job or task repeatedly, you should create a training manual for it. 

The first step to doing so is stating the purpose of the training manual. Why do you need it? Will it save you time, allow you to pass this task along to someone else, or improve your onboarding process? 

80% of the tasks in a business are routine tasks, many of which can be scaled to benefit your business. Make a list of the routine tasks you and every employee do. Then, systemize things that are done every day, first, before working on things that are done less frequently.

Define your objective for the training manual and make sure it is in line with your business goals. If systematizing this task or job won’t move you closer to your goals, it may not be a task or job you need to be spending so much time on in the first place.  

It’s also important to define who you are writing the system for. This will help you write it with the reader — the employee who will be fulfilling the system — in mind.  

2. Determine Your Format

Now that you know the goal of your training manual, you can determine the best way to deliver it. Should it be printed and posted in a certain room? Should it be digital and available online? 

Printed documents or booklets, digital PDFs, or video tutorials are all great formats for your training manuals, but some will be more effective than others depending on the role. 

Oftentimes, combined formats such as a digital PDF with links to video tutorials or a printed booklet with pictures to accompany each step can provide clarity for the employee. 

Consider how the content will be best interpreted. If you have the capacity, testing multiple formats can show you which format produces optimal results. 

Software Will Automate Your System

Formating systems is where investing in software can be extremely helpful. Using software can be beneficial for measuring results, goal setting, and automation. If you can automate something, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy and have greater control over the outcome. 

This is all great, but if you don’t have the funds, or aren’t at a point in your business where you require a lot of training, software may not be right for you at the moment. You can always utilize a piece of software that’s tailor-made to suit your systems down the road after your manual is in place and your system is moving. 

Regardless of whether you embark on software now or later, you need to document your systems on paper so you know how they work and fit together at a basic level. 

3. Outline Each Step in Detail 

When creating a training manual, it’s important to not only outline each step but also include detailed descriptions. You don’t want to leave anyone who is reading the system wondering how they get from steps 1 to 2 or 9 to 10. 

Consider what questions someone may have along the way and answer them. Also, ensure that you make your information easy to find. Think about the most important parts of completing the system and provide adequate detail to guarantee they’re completed correctly.  

4. Link Necessary Resources 

One of the benefits of choosing a digital format for your training manual is that you can include links to other resources within the manual. These links can guide employees to video or photo tutorials, or to resources that they will need to complete the task — such as subfolders and other ‘how-to’ documents.  

5. Incorporate Checklists 

Now, you need a checklist when creating your how-to manuals for your business. It may sound simple and many will oftentimes skip this step, but if you put checklists in place, you can guarantee a far higher chance of success than without one. 

Even if you already know how to do a job, you can minimize human error and maximize accuracy by checking off each step. Incorporating checklists will ensure that the person going through the manual has successfully completed the system.

6. Utilize Visual Elements

Including visual elements in your training manuals can also be extremely beneficial. Visual learning is often preferred by people as it is easier and quicker to process than text. 

Photos, videos, charts, and infographics can paint a clear picture of how the job should be done. When these elements are a part of your training manual, you will experience more consistent results.  

Videos Will Easily Showcase The Job

Videos are a great format for training manuals on their own or to supplement other training materials. Take sales, for example. A video or audio file of a salesperson completing a sale with a training script will be much more effective at relaying how to use the script successfully than simply including the script on its own.

Photography Provides Clarity

Photos can effectively show what the job should look like when it is done. Take a restaurant, for instance. Photos can provide the chef and employees with clarity as to how the dish should look when it’s prepared, how the kitchen should look when it’s cleaned, and how the table should look when it’s set. 

Infographics & Charts Show Data

Images can also portray infographics and charts such as spreadsheets and flow charts. These elements give a visual representation of information that is easier to digest and understand.

7. Ask for Feedback

Your employees are the ones who are going to be running the systems so it’s important that they work for them. If a system isn’t making things more efficient, isn’t straightforward, isn’t doing a better job, has technological hiccups, or isn’t servicing the customer well, then it’s not a good system. 

So, the final step to creating a training manual is critical: ask for feedback. A system can only be improved if you receive feedback from the people who are using it. 

Throughout the training process, ask employees for feedback. As time goes on and you train new employees on the system, you can continue to receive feedback that will help your training manual develop and improve — a training manual should evolve as the business grows in order to stay up to date and relevant. 

How to Create a Training Manual

Create Your Training Manual Today

We know that systematization is key to growing a successful enterprise that eventually works without you. For systems to work, though, you need proper training manuals to set them in place.

It may take you weeks, months, or even years to develop manuals for every single job, but it’s a critical step toward the long-term success and scalability of your business. 

Not creating the proper training could be inhibiting your growth. Uncover what’s blocking your success so you can unlock your potential