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Never-ending training

No manager can set expectations without giving staff the tools to achieve them, says a California administrator. And the main tool is training that never ends.

At her office, Patricia Board starts the training on the first day a staffer comes in. She gives the newcomer a check-off list of both job and office basics and spends several hours going over each item.

“Those are the things a new staffer needs to know right away,” she says—confidentiality, computer use, dress code, work hours, staff names, and preferences such as how to address people.

Following that is 45 minutes of basic OSHA training.

From there, Board turns the training over to the other staff in the area where the new employee will work, and for the first several days, it’s mostly a matter of shadowing. Then when the staffer takes on the job, the others still have the responsibility of giving guidance and answering questions.

The peer training continues throughout the 90-day probation period, “and it can be as fast or as slow as needed.”

Throughout that time, Board meets with the new employee—sometimes as often as weekly—to see how the training is progressing. Sometimes the peer trainers participate in those meetings to talk about what the newcomer has learned and still needs to learn.

And it doesn’t stop there. “Everything is in writing as well.”

On the office’s network, Board maintains a manual that covers absolutely everything anybody could want to know—policies, procedures, equipment use, and even summaries of memos that go out. The manual is extensive to the point “that someone could self train with it.”

Along with that, at every desk is a mini manual in a white binder that covers all the reference material the office uses—names, job titles, addresses, phone numbers, license numbers, computer directions, emergency numbers, and information about building management.

Every desk has the exact same manual kept in the exact same order, she says. That way, the information is immediately available no matter where someone is standing.

The training continues at every staff meeting, where Board keeps staff updated on everything from new regulations to the office’s HR policy.

What’s worked for you? Do have an idea or solution that you’ve used at your office and would like to share with readers of Law Office Manager? Send it to the editor at If we publish your idea, we’ll pay you $100.

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