The billion dollar question is: how to produce effective employee training manuals?
Ineffective workplace training can have serious consequences like:
- Employee confusion.
- Reduced morale.
- Low productivity.
- Poor retention.
- Customer dissatisfaction.
In short? Neglecting employee training is a mistake modern businesses can't afford to make.
To strategically onboard new employees and ensure ongoing skill development, companies should create different training manuals that serve different purposes.
In this guide, we'll show you how to create effective training manuals for your business.
Before we dive into the step-by-step breakdown, allow us to put in front of you our definition of training manuals, their purpose and other relevant information.
Let's get started.
- Training manuals are structured and comprehensive documents or resources that provide employees with the necessary information, guidance, and instructions to acquire specific knowledge, skills, and competencies required to perform their job tasks effectively.
- They are essential for onboarding new employees, implementing new systems/tools, and sharing best practices.
- They reduce employee workload and prevent costly mistakes.
- The steps for creating a training manual include defining the purpose and target audience, planning the content, determining the format, creating the content, delivering, tracking progress and collecting feedback, and finally reviewing & updating content.
- You can use a software documentation tool like Scribe to create effective training manuals for your business.
What is a training manual? [+ free template]
A training manual is a structured and comprehensive document or resource that provides employees with the necessary information, guidance, and instructions to acquire specific knowledge and skills to perform their job tasks effectively.
It serves as a reference and learning tool to support employee training, development, and onboarding processes within an organization.
Training manuals are more than bulk text — they hold the processes that keep teams running.
For example, a training manual for new customer service employees should typically include comprehensive information about the company's offering, customer service policies and procedures, and guidelines on how to handle common customer inquiries or issues
It could also include other relevant information like a series of processes that teach:
→ How to greet and engage customers
→ How to handle common customer inquiries
→ How to deliver personalized customer support
→ How to transfer a customer to another department or agent
You can create training manuals for different roles in your company to smoothly onboard new employees across different departments. Existing employees can also revisit these training manuals to gain a better understanding of the company and gain insights into the inner workings of their respective teams.
It's a good practice to continuously update these training manuals to make sure they are always relevant and align with evolving company practices, team operations, and technological advancements.
You can also create dedicated training manuals other than ones for new employees. For example, you can create specialized training manuals for advanced skill development like:
→ A manual focused on advanced Excel functions and data analysis.
→ How to use a specific tool your company has recently subscribed to.
→ An updated guide outlining fire evacuation protocols.
→ An advanced training manual for call center agents, focusing on handling irate customers and complex issues.
→ How to use AI within the organization.
✅ Check out this free training manual template to kickstart your own training program.
Let's learn more about the different types of training manuals.
Types of training manuals
Different types of training manuals include:
- Onboarding manuals: to smoothly onboard new employees by providing them a brief overview about the company, policies, culture; followed by an introduction to the team, processes and everything they need to know about performing their day-to-day operations.
- Product or service manuals: to provide comprehensive information about the company's product or service.
- Safety manuals: to inform employees about the safety procedures, emergency protocols, and hazard identification for employees.
- Employee handbook: to familiarize employees with company policies, benefits, and provide information like how to raise invoices or work with subcontractors.
- Software manuals: to give insights into specific tools, how to use them and other relevant information like what to look out for, safety practices and more.
Similarly, you can create training manuals for quality control, emergency response, remote work and more.
What is the purpose of a training manual?
The main purpose of a training manual is to provide employees with a comprehensive understanding of a specific role or task by offering detailed processes and procedures and instructions for carrying it out effectively.
Training manuals also support individual professional development and can improve employee effectiveness, competency, and satisfaction.
Creating training manuals reduces unnecessary back-and-forth communication between employees. And since employees have a handbook they can revisit any time to learn about something or how to do it, it reduces the reliance on colleagues or supervisors. This further fosters a culture of continuous learning and self-reliance in a company.
These manuals also comprise relevant resources and references.
To maximize the impact and use of training manuals in a company, it's important to make sure they are easy to consume and engaging.
In the next step, we'll show to how to create an effective training manual for your business.
How to write a training manual
Like with any method of procedure, there are several steps to put a training manual together.
To create a training manual in half the time, you can try a process documentation tool like Scribe. Just use the AI-powered software to capture any process to generate a step-by-step guide, and then use AI to combine your guides in a full-length training manual.
Here's a step-by-step breakdown of creating a training manual from scratch:
1. Define the purpose of the training manual and audience.
First question you must ask yourself: what is the purpose of the training manual?
Understanding the 'why' behind the training manual is important.
And once you've done that, the next step is to figure out who you're writing for.
Ask yourself: who are these people and how and when will they access this training manual?
Understanding how and when users will access the training manual will help you understand where the readers currently stand, their expertise needs and preferences. For example, if you're creating a training manual for senior sales reps, you don't need to define basic sales terminologies inside your training manual.
So, before you start writing your training manual, ask questions like:
- Who am I talking to?
- Why are they reading this?
- What are the objectives for this manual?
- What's the extent of their knowledge?
- What industry do they work in?
- Would they benefit from longer or shorter content, e.g. a quick reference guide?
- Is it preferable for them to read or rather watch a video?
- Is there anything you need to be mindful of in terms of cultural or linguistic context?
Answering these questions will help you determine how much material you should provide.
Knowing your audience's skill level, context and preferences can help get the best results from your content.
And once you've defined the purpose of your training manual and audience, the next step is to start documenting everything. Launch a blank document and type in the title of the training manual along with its purpose.
For example, if you're creating a training manual for new junior sales employees, the title and purpose can be:
Title: "Sales Rep Training Manual: Equipping New Team Members for Success"
Purpose: The purpose of this Sales Training Manual is to empower new sales team members with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to excel in their roles within our organization.
2. Plan your content
The next step is to plan your content. Lay out the elements of your training documentation and structure them strategically in a way that makes sense for users.
The topics in your training handbook should be organized and classified according to different themes. You might want to categorize them by:
- Topics ranging from basic to advanced.
- Things to do.
- Product features.
- Frequency of use.
- Popularity with the target demographic.
When creating small one-off training guides, you can outline everything quickly.
But if you're writing a full guide, it may take some time.
This step-by-step guide template will simplify the process for you.
When you're creating the content, be sure to add a summary for each section.
Also, while planning your content, your focus should be to plan it such that it makes your training manual feel user-friendly.
A new user should feel at ease finding the information they need, while a returning user should easily be able to locate specific topics inside the manual.
Some things to consider:
- Add visual elements to keep it engaging like charts, graphs, infographics, checklists, quizzes, etc.
- Use color coding to differentiate sections or topics, but be mindful of accessibility guidelines to ensure everyone can benefit from these cues.
- Provide industry-specific examples and solutions.
- Use industry-specific jargons. The needs of your IT team and HR team will be quite different, so use the industry-appropriate "language" that will resonate most.
- If your manual has a large number of subjects, group them and use headers and sub-sections to organize the content.
- Implement a robust indexing and search feature that allows users to quickly find what they're looking for.
3. Determine the training manual format
The next step is to determine the training manual format. Choose a format that's easily accessible by users and aligns with your organization's goals.
Here are some popular training manual formats to pick from:
- Digital PDF manuals
- Online wiki or knowledgebase
- Powerpoint presentations
- A series of instructional knowledge base videos
- Quick interactive content modules
The format you choose will heavily depend on the topic you intend to write about and how your readers like to consume content.
For example, if you want to teach new employees about the company's policies and procedures, it's a good idea to create a PDF manual. That's because your employees may revisit this document again and again. In this case, it's not a good idea to create a video.
On the other hand, if you want to teach how to use a software, you can consider creating a Scribe Page using Scribe's Pages feature. This feature combines multiple Scribes with other media and AI-powered text.
4. Produce the content
Now, it's time to put it all together. How you produce the content depends on the format of the training manual.
But in general, many training manuals are made up of several training guides, complete with images and steps for each task.
The process includes:
- Building training guides for each task.
- Combining your training guides in one manual.
- Adding additional sections as necessary, such as an overview, training materials, additional resources or goals.
To build your training guides you can take screenshots, record your screen or use a tool like Scribe to generate step-by-step guides for each process.
Once you've captured your guides, go to Scribe Pages.
With Pages, you can combine your guides, then use AI to build the rest of your training manual.
More often than not, your materials are guided by strategy and supported by people and tools. Sometimes there's a cost, but you can count on maximum ROI if you have a well-defined goal.
When you invest in developing an engaging training manual, you can use it to support hundreds or even thousands of workers.
5. Deliver, track progress & collect feedback
Share your training manual with all relevant audiences. This process depends on the tool you use.
With Scribe, you can easily share via a quick link, embed in any tool or export into PDF, Confluence or Markdown.
Team members with Scribe accounts can also access all training documentation you share with them through their dashboard.
No matter how you share, remember to make your training manual as easy to access and use as possible.
Once you've rolled out your training manuals, it's important to collect feedback about it. This might be in the form of a survey or support channel. Based on responses, you can investigate potential issues and room for expansion.
Set KPIs for training to measure the effectiveness of your manual.
A corporate learning management system is one of the most effective approaches for storing manuals and resources in a centralized location. You can also use the tool to delegate the information to your staff members and monitor how they use it.
6. Review & update content
After considering these insights on making your manual even better, you may want to consider updating it to:
- Add more useful content.
- Refine the design.
- Change the format.
Thoroughly audit your manual to maintain its usefulness and continued relevance. Systems, products and features are always improving—your resources have to evolve with them.
We know updates can be time-consuming (and frankly, exhausting.) Take advantage of digital automation by investing in tools that remove the need for manual labor.
Either way, be careful to maintain the source files for your work so that you can go back and make any necessary changes.
Let's also learn how a training manual can benefit your employees.
How a training manual benefits employees
Employee training manuals support your team with concise information showing them what they need to do the job.
Here are a few key points on why you need one:
1. Inform employees of training programs
Address all training-related questions at once. Provide a list of all available courses, educational materials and FAQs. The more details you provide, the better.
Make it clear which courses are required and which are elective. For example, compliance and technical training are usually must-haves, while soft skills are typically optional. Depending on the size of your company, you might want to categorize training documentation and courses by department. That way, employees can focus on the information that matters most to them.
2. Create & maintain transparency in your training
Training documents set the standard for how things are done. It's a roadmap built by several teams to support ongoing staff training.
With a well-defined training program, everyone knows what they can do and how much training they're entitled to.
Introducing new SOPs (standard operating procedures) for training shouldn't be left to word-of-mouth referrals from coworkers in another division. To create trust and honesty with your employees, be open and transparent in all parts of the business.
3. Reinforce a lifelong learning environment
If your company already has a training guide of some sort, you know training is integral to your work environment. Well-structured manuals can support any member of your team.
Start your employee onboarding process by informing your new team members about the importance of learning and growth at your company. Employees who strongly agree they have a clear strategy for their professional growth are 3.5 times more likely to say their onboarding process was excellent.
Include a manual in your company's employee handbook to remind your staff that learning and growth are always accessible. Your employee training manual will be the glue that holds training together if it's easy to access in an up-to-date knowledge base.
4. Streamline onboarding
Companies with a good onboarding process increase new recruit retention by 82 percent and productivity by more than 70 percent.
When a new employee joins the company, the HR department is swamped with onboarding documents and, more importantly, planning activities for orientation and onboarding. You've probably heard that the honeymoon phase for new recruits generally ends quickly. When it comes to onboarding new employees, you'd best do it correctly.
New workers, HR and management all benefit from a reliable source of truth. A training manual helps new recruits adapt to their roles and supports them with ongoing job training.
5. Lessen the employee workload
If everyone has access to your best practices, they're empowered to do the job well. This reduces the number of repeat questions that pull your subject matter experts away from their jobs and declutter HR's inbox. Let current employees focus on developing strategies and supporting ongoing growth.
6. Make fewer costly mistakes
The potential cost of noncompliance is HUGE. No employee wants to be caught in the cross-fires of a colossal mistake. Prepare them with the rules and procedures that can prevent major mishaps. A detailed training manual is the first step to maintaining proper training processes.
Training manual FAQs
Got questions? We've compiled a list of FAQs and answers to help you create your manual.
1. What's the purpose of a training manual?
A training manual is a set of instructions that help employees perform tasks at the highest level of precision. You can create them in different formats tailored to suit a particular job function's learning and working styles.
Many workplaces deliver manuals to employees digitally as electronic files, visual walkthroughs created with screen capture and recording software, video tutorials and more.
2. Who is the target audience for the training manual?
The sky's the limit! All industries and employees will benefit from training manuals and other training documents. When you're ready to define your audience, here are a few strategic departments to focus on:
- Operations teams.
- Customer-facing teams.
- Sales ops & enablement teams.
- HR and Learning & Development teams.
- IT teams.
You can also use the topic you want to focus on to help you determine the audience. You can start with one of these common areas:
- Train teammates.
- Train customers.
- Onboard new hires.
- Implement tools.
- Create process documentation.
3. What is the expected outcome of the training manual?
Training guides and manuals help employees complete tasks following a specified quality standard.
- Identify and overcome process bottlenecks.
- Provide a reference your team can turn to for a process refresher.
- Give comprehensive answers to the most common FAQs.
- Communicate details in a standardized way
- Improve task efficiency and quality.
- Empower your team to complete tasks independently and confidently.
- Create a culture of efficiency that people can depend on, leading to higher trust in your brand.
4. Who will be responsible for delivering the training manual?
With digital documentation tools, you can use advanced sharing features—like saving documents as links that live until you choose to delete them.
When you make training manuals with Scribe and Scribe Pages, you can even embed them into other tools in your team’s technology stack, like Hubspot, ClickUp, Monday.com or WordPress.
5. How will the training manual be evaluated?
Get your team involved in the manual creation process! Hold feedback sessions regularly at team meetings or stand-ups where you ask your team questions like:
- Are you running into any issues with how processes are done?
- Are there any tools or workflows you would like more clarity on?
- Has your quality of work lately been impacted by inconsistencies or errors related to workplace procedures and systems?
- Would you like to get more detailed walkthroughs or instructions on any tasks you’ve been assigned recently?
6. How do I create a training manual in Word?
Create a training handbook in Word by following these simple steps.
- Select New from the File menu in Microsoft Word.
- Make a selection by double-clicking on the Books folder. Double-click on the Other Books folder.
- Simply double-click on the Professional Manual Template.
You can also customize the user manual template in Microsoft Word.
Conclusion: Start making training manuals
The sooner you write a training manual, the sooner you'll see improvements in employee productivity, results and even retention.
Use a training manual to outline your best practices and establish ongoing education and professional development.
Build your own training manual with our step-by-step guide, or take advantage of a tool like Scribe to generate training manuals in minutes.