Training doesn't have to be dull and uneventful. You can make the sessions interesting by including fun acivities and games to play with new employees that help them understand and carry out their job duties in an effective manner. During the games, you should pair up employees who have different personalities because this teaches them how to get along with employees who may not always solve issues the same way, and teaches lessons on compromise and teamwork despite obstacles.
Dealing with Difficult Customers
Have a role-playing acivity in which you pair employees into groups of two; one pretends to be the sales representative, while the other plays the customer. Give each group of employees index cards that describe various situations with customers, such as an incident when a customer gets irate for no reason or when a customer unfairly accuses the employee of not following the company's policies. During each group's presentations, take notes and give feedback and suggestions on how to handle those situations.
Because the workplace and customers are more diverse than in previous decades, it is beneficial to have games that teach employees about cultural sensitivity. For example, write down five to 10 scenarios in which employees are confronted with people or issues that challenge their views on race and socioeconomic backgrounds. Ask them to present their answers to these questions and, after hearing them, discuss the employees' answers and give pointers on how to deal with coworkers and customers of specific cultural backgrounds.
Critical Thinking and Multitasking Skills
Because most jobs require critical thinking and multitasking skills, have games that teach new employees how to master these skills at work. For example; if you're the manager of a high-volume catering company and you're training new receptionists, bring them to a large unoccupied office in the building and have each person complete two difficult tasks within a certain amount of minutes. For example; one receptionist can attempt to enter 12 new orders and greet customers, while another person has to write 10 business letters to clients while being interrupted by the phone at the same time.
Since there are times when employees don't get along, you can have games that teach employees how to handle disagreements in a respectful and fair manner. Pair them up in groups of three and give each group a real-life scenario that you've experienced during your years as a manager. For example; one group may have a scenario where one employee slacks off in his duties and lets everyone else pick up the load, while another group may act out a situation where a few employees spread harmful rumors that could jeopardize another employee's reputation. After the group presentations, review the role plays and offer advice on dealing with difficult employees.
Thea Theresa English is a freelance writer who lives in New Orleans. She has written articles on career development, maintaining healthy relationships, politics and cultural issues. She is currently a graduate student at Tulane University where she will receive her Master of Liberal Arts degree.