Successful employee transitions

Before staff enter a new position, follow these 10 tips to provide adequate training.

It takes time to adequately orient an employee to a new position, and finding the time to do a thorough job is not always easy.

However, success in a new role depends entirely on the teaching, resources, and training invested into the process. This investment into developing a comprehensive, yet uncomplicated, process for learning a new job benefits the entire practice.

Whether an employee is a new hire ready for training or is transitioning from one position into another, the 10 tips that follow are critical to success.

1. Develop a detailed plan.

Spend some dedicated, uninterrupted time “brainstorming” a list of all the information or tasks that the employee will need to know. Developing the list may require input from others who have done the job or currently perform the duties. Also, reference the job description for the position in the training plan when possible. Some of the items will require in-depth explanation while other items may require minimal time.

2. Use a timeline/checklist.

A table/chart with due dates provides reference points to assist in keeping the project on track. This will help to ensure that you cover all pertinent material in a timely manner. This is intended to be a guide; if some areas require more training or time, it is helpful to move forward and address them later in the process.

3. Establish expert advisor(s).

It is always easier to share the load; training is no different! Choose teachers who are your most experienced or knowledgeable employees. Also, designate a trainer for each area or department (billing, clinical, front desk).

Teaching is not pleasant or easy, for some, so avoid involving employees, managers, or doctors who do not enjoy it. Also, be sure that the advisor is someone who will show sensitivity to the needs of the employee who is learning. This will ensure a positive experience that contributes to a successful outcome.

4. Make notes.

Inevitably, noteworthy items or issues will arise due to the many topics and skills you will teach. Keeping notes will ensure that you revisit any necessary information or skill training at the end of the training period. The supervisor should sit down and review the training plan and discuss it with the new employee to determine if he or she needs any additional time in a particular area or with a specific skill or task.

5. Ensure privacy and a quiet setting.

This makes for the most beneficial learning experience. Reducing distractions and eliminating interruptions creates an atmosphere conducive to learning. This is always helpful and appreciated by any new or transitioning person.

6. Encourage a two-way conversation.

Involve the “student” employee in the learning by inviting him or her to ask questions. This is critical to ensuring that he or she understands everything being taught. Also, watch for negative communication: a puzzled look or a surprised response may indicate that the “student” has questions or perhaps does not understand what is presented.

7. Never assume.

We have all heard the adage about assuming. Rather, ask questions throughout the training session to ascertain the employee’s understanding of the material. Also, consider giving the employee skill tests. Requiring clinical staff to give a “return demonstration” to the “teacher” is a great way to assess knowledge and understanding.

8. Provide positive feedback.

Teachers should also be great coaches. Provide encouragement and support such as, “You are doing great,” or, “With practice, you will do just fine.” This will reduce any anxiety for the employee that may accompany the new job. When teachers freely share what they know to help others, employees have confidence in looking to and counting on them for advice and guidance. The employee gains knowledge from the teacher, who pays it forward by helping just like the person who taught them.

9. Review and revisit.

Review any outstanding items that require additional time or training. If you have time, revisit steps one through three above. Perhaps the employee will benefit from an explanation or demonstration from a different staff member, manager, or doctor. Ask questions to be sure that you are clear on the nature of the void or need.

10. Evaluate or survey.

Feedback is a great tool to help the “teacher” to improve on techniques and training methods used and to strengthen the overall plan for other future changes. Put this in writing, documenting that you provided the training and the employee understood. The new employee should also “sign off” on training, stating that he or she is comfortable in performing the tasks associated with the job. Documentation captures the goals accomplished during training and validates that adequate education and training has been completed for the new or transitioning employee.

If not already done at an earlier time, this may be a good time to review and sign a copy of the job description. Maintain documentation in the employee’s personnel file.


It may benefit both the practice and the “trainers” to offer some type of additional compensation or other incentive to reward them and to encourage participation and mentoring. Because a focused and detailed approach is important, offering an incentive underscores the importance of the time and attention necessary. Otherwise, they may skim over the small details, such as proper cleaning of equipment, handwashing, or proper documentation, all of which present various risks. Detailed plans help to mitigate negative outcomes for the patient and the practice. OP