Malcolm Gladwell wrote that we need 10,000 hours of intensive practice to master a skill. That’s three hours of practice a day for a little more than nine years.
A few years later, author Josh Kaufman released his counterargument to the rule, saying, “In this nonstop world, who has that kind of time?”
Instead, he proposed “rapid skill acquisition. This means that with 20 hours of focused and deliberate practice, anyone can master a skill. It starts by:
- Breaking down complex processes.
- Practicing the most important components first.
- Removing barriers to consistent practice.
Employees can’t ramp up quickly without resources to help them climb the learning curve while they work. Use these training manual examples to turn your complicated processes into easy-to-use guidelines.
What is a training manual?
A training manual will focus on the how, what and why for the topic you're discussing.
Training manuals aren't limited to paper — they can be physical handbooks, digital guides, step-by-step guides, video recordings and more. Some are even optimized for self-paced learning and easy distribution.
When looking through training manual examples, it's important to ask yourself:
- What problem am I solving for?
- What are the goals of my training manual?
- Where will my training manual live?
15 Training manual examples
Common types of training manuals are:
- Standard training manual.
- SOP training manual.
- Employee handbook.
- Software adoption.
- Troubleshooting guide.
- Step-by-step guide.
- Action plan.
- Project handover.
- New-hire onboarding manual.
- Technical tutorials.
- 30-60-90 day.
- Instructional video.
- Client onboarding checklist and plans.
- Instruction manual.
We’re big fans of doing documentation right, which means we like to share examples that are fun, reader-friendly and shareable.
Let’s walk through the most common types of training manuals, plus examples of training manuals and tips for each.
Company-wide training manual examples
1. Standard training manual
Generic training manuals are versatile tools that you can use in any industry and organization.
This training manual example provides a framework you can easily tailor to your unique industry standards or company needs.
It includes a(n):
- Pre-training preparation.
- Training sessions.
- Post-training evaluation.
Each section of the manual is designed to help trainers develop effective training programs that meet the training objectives.
2. SOP training manual
Most heavily regulated industries (like healthcare or finance) lean on standard operating procedures (SOPs) to maintain company safety and compliance.
SOPs break down business processes into different casts, using step-by-step guides to explain what to do and what outcome to expect.
An SOP training manual includes:
- Job descriptions.
- Steps for completing tasks.
- Safety protocols and regulations.
- Quality control measures.
Keep in mind that the format of an SOP manual template can vary depending on your organization or regulatory bodies.
3. Employee handbook
Usually, an employee handbook will have:
- Table of contents.
- Mission, Vision and Value Statement
- Performance and professional development opportunities
- Employee policies.
- Company operations and procedures
- Compensation and benefits.
This is an excellent resource to have during onboarding or changes in leadership.
IT and software training manual examples
4. Software adoption
Most workplace departments today have between 40 to 60 software applications each.
If you’re in DevOps, you’re expected to learn 5 to 10 types of technology tools immediately as part of your responsibility to manage end-to-end processes.
Training manuals give teams this structure, formalizing and documenting accurate instructions, so you don’t have to rack your brain second-guessing yourself every time.
Your software training manual can highlight:
- Complete walkthroughs of a new software system
- Frequently asked questions about certain elements of a new software systems
- Mistakes to avoid when using a particular system
- Tips and shortcuts to help employees use new systems more efficiently
The manual includes three peer-approved tips for familiarizing yourself with a new Mac, each tip with its own set of instructions to follow (like how to locate and update system settings).
Use a standardized and comprehensive runbook to ensure consistency in routine operational or deployment tasks. It's especially helpful for IT professionals who need to manage complex systems and applications.
Your runbook training manual example includes:
- Step-by-step instructions.
- Command-line commands.
- Troubleshooting steps.
... and any other information necessary to complete a task. It may also contain contact information for support or escalation.
6. Troubleshooting guide
This training manual example helps IT and customer support teams and resolve problems or issues with a particular system, device or software.
Its primary purpose is to help users diagnose and solve problems. A troubleshooting guide has:
- A problem overview.
- Step-by-step instructions.
- Visuals — such as annotated screenshots.
- Potential causes.
- Different solutions.
Depending on your workflow, there are several formatting options for a troubleshooting guide, such as a standard training manual or flowchart.
Workplace tips and best practice training manual examples
7. Step-by-step guide
If you're the go-to person on your team, you're probably used to answering questions and solving problems for your coworkers.
Step-by-step (or how-to) guides are a great way to show how to do daily processes without the bells and whistles of formal procedures.
Make sure to add:
- A clear title.
- A brief process description.
- Step-by-step instructions.
- Screenshots or illustrations.
- Additional tips or alerts.
💡 Tip: We recommend using a process documentation tool so that you can create more guides, quickly. Scribe is a free Chrome extension captures your screen to build visual documentation for you.
8. Action plan
Action plans are a great way to set and achieve team goals. This can range from business-oriented efforts to personal development plans.
It includes sections for:
- Defining the goal.
- Identifying tasks.
- Allocating resources.
- Creating a timeline.
- Monitoring progress.
An action plan is a great way for leaders to support their team members.
9. Project handover
It's hard to hand off a project. You want to make sure that all the information is passed on correctly to the right people.
This project handover documentation template includes:
- Project goals.
- Training resources.
Documents all the necessary information about a project and provides clear guidelines for a smooth transition between team members or departments.
Let’s be real — you’re never really done learning about what spreadsheets can do. And it’s hard to get everyone excited about learning it if it's not something they genuinely enjoy.
This training manual shares knowledge in a quick, clear and interactive way. It works for beginners' training or as a quick reference guide to refresh employee memory.
Employee onboarding training manual examples
10. New-hire onboarding manual
Fifty-nine percent of employees say that training improves their overall job performance. Set them up for success with a new-hire onboarding manual.
This onboarding manual focuses on the first week of employment. It includes:
- An outline of ramp-up tasks.
- A list of onboarding documentation.
- Tools and resources.
- Other welcome information.
If you can create a training manual for specific job functions, you’ll help these employees shorten ramp-up time, improve work outcomes, and most importantly, stay motivated as part of your team.
11. Technical tutorials
Each job function manages various tasks and procedures with their own expectations and outcomes.
We usually measure a new hire’s performance by how they familiarize themselves with core tasks. There’s also the added pressure of staying up to date with new technologies without getting frazzled or burnt out.
Your role-specific training manual should include:
- Tutorials on how to operate a particular software or system.
- Best practices on how to perform a process consistently.
- Introductions to role-specific terminology and standards.
12. 30-60-90 Day
This training manual example breaks the onboarding process down into three phases, with specific goals and activities outlined for each.
The first 30 days are focused on:
- Getting to know the team.
- Learning about company policies and procedures.
- Identifying primary responsibilities.
The next 30 days focus on:
- Setting specific goals.
- Taking on more responsibility.
- Continuing to develop skills.
The final 30 days focus on:
- Making an impact.
- Seeking and acting on feedback.
- Developing a plan for ongoing growth.
Customer success training manual examples
13. Instructional video
We can share so much through video — that’s why almost 40 percent of Gen Z use TikTok instead of Google to answer certain search queries.
The same applies to work. An instructional video helps potential users understand your product, learn about new features or troubleshoot problems.
Typically, a subject matter expert will present in this video, and will either:
- Walks viewer through a tool or process.
- Explains a concept.
- Offers step-by-step instructions for a task.
14. Client onboarding checklist and plans
Eight in ten users say they would delete an app if they didn’t know how to use it. But there are so many variables at play when getting a customer up to speed. A client onboarding checklist and plan outlines the tasks related to:
- Project managing.
The client onboarding plan includes:
- A script.
- Onboarding documents.
- Legal agreements.
15. Instruction manual
This instruction manual example includes a(n):
- Table of contents.
- Product overview.
- Process and task list.
- Troubleshooting guide.
- Maintenance and care.
You'll typically use an instruction manual for consumer products, machinery, electronics or appliances.
Why are training manuals important?
Fifty-one percent of employees believe that proper workplace training gives them more self-confidence on the job. When your team feels fully prepared to conduct procedures accurately, they’ll more likely take more ownership in their work.
What would that look like in your day-to-day environment? Here are some examples of why your team needs a training manual.
Stronger time management and task prioritization
Process documentation is especially important if you expect your team to manage collaborative projects with high stakes.
For example, DevOps teams improve process efficiencies so companies can have smoother software deployment. Training manuals help the engineers spend less time figuring out operational technicalities and more time on actual projects that impact the business.
Create a culture of strong communication
Training manuals create a standard where all tasks and projects go hand-in-hand with clear instructions and expectations.
Show up for your team with documentation that helps them confidently do work. This motivates them to practice the same attention to detail when communicating within your team and with other departments.
Keep employees motivated and engaged
Your team wants to feel part of a culture that values their time and efforts. Ninety-two percent of employees say training programs encourage them to be more engaged in the workplace.
Proper guidance and resources empower your team to take on responsibility and explore new and exciting opportunities.
For example, employees are more motivated to master new technology systems if they can quickly reference an up-to-date manual that walks them through the basics. They’ll grow more comfortable learning about new processes and incorporating them into daily activities.
Better yet, they might even discover new interests and skills that can further push them forward in their careers.
Use these successful training manual examples today
The definition of a training manual has changed over the last few years.
Today, training manuals look different. They’re vibrant, exciting and easily adaptable for offices and home offices. Most of all, they’re customized to bring out a team’s best learning.
We hope you use these training manual examples to fit your own needs.
Remember, the best training manual doesn’t have to be hard to make. Use any one of these examples or try a training manual tool to get started.