If you have made a new hire, then you are aware that it takes them some time to get to where they contribute to productivity. What if there was a way that you could speed that process up? That process is called onboarding. Onboarding is a simple way to protect your investment of time, money, and effort in recruiting a new employee. In this case, it’s a technician, and there are a few differences in onboarding for a technical field.

Safety first!

The first process for onboarding a new recruit in a dangerous field is familiarizing them with the shop’s safety equipment. This should be done first thing on their first day. They need to know where every fire extinguisher, eyewash station, chemical shower, and emergency shutoffs are for each area in the shop. They also need to know where to acquire safety glasses, aprons, and any other Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) they need to perform their job safely. Once they know where everything is and how to use it, you will have another member on your team that is safety aware, and this will allow them to protect themselves and others in the case of an emergency. This may sound drastic, but this step was skipped on me at my second shop, and I had to frantically search for an extinguisher to put out my coworker and the car they were working on. The extinguisher was right behind me, I could have saved him from third-degree burns with just a little knowledge.

Systems Check

Once your new tech is safety aware, they need to know how to handle the shop’s repair order (RO) system. Often times, this can be the major bottleneck for new recruits becoming productive team members. Every shop is different, so this step of onboarding is important for both fresh lube techs and seasoned heavy line mechanics alike. I have worked in 6 different shops with 6 different RO systems, and every time, handling the new system without training held me back from my pique efficiency. If you want your new recruit to be their best, and worth your time, then invest in making sure they know how to handle your shops RO system.

Introductions are Necessary

Knowing the safety equipment and systems is half the battle. Next, they need to know who they are working with. Introduce your new recruit to the people they will be working closest with. They need to know who to talk to for new information. As much as you try to prepare your new recruit for everything, they will inevitably require peer support. Getting an early start on introducing new relationships will allow your recruits to know who to find for whatever their needs are.

Gimme the Good Stuff

Lastly, your new recruit needs to where the shop equipment is, how to operate it, and any special requirements for how to handle it. I have had an endless number of shop foremen get onto me for putting equipment away improperly when some simple training would have saved me the hassle. Furthermore, don’t rely on a new technician’s experience with handling equipment. Every machine is different and has its own quirks. Find the right person in the shop to show them where to get every machine they will need, how to use it, and how to properly maintain it before allowing them to use anything alone.

Do it Right the First Time

If you follow these tactics, plus all the other general onboarding steps for non-technicians, you will have a productive team member in no time. This will help your more tenured technicians get over the “new guy” effect and allow the shop to get back into a rhythm without missing a beat. And since you spent all that investment on getting a new recruit, it only makes sense to spend just a little more on making them more productive as fast as possible.

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