Whether you’re getting your new employees up to speed on their day-to-day tasks or looking to boost everyone’s skills in a certain area, training manuals are crucial for any company’s learning and development programs.
In fact, a 2020 LinkedIn survey found that 94% of employees said they’d consider sticking with a job for longer if the company invested in their development.
So how can you create training manuals that facilitate your employees’ performance? If the term “manual” gives you anxiety, don’t worry. In this article, I’ll explain how you can create training materials in no time — with the help of Venngage and training manual templates.
Click to jump ahead:
- What is a training manual?
- What are the elements of a training manual?
- How do you write a training manual?
- Training manual tips & tricks
- Training manual FAQs
What is a training manual?
A training manual is a document (or series of documents) explaining how to complete a task. Businesses use them for employee onboarding, training on new technology or processes, and for general learning and development purposes.
Some employee training manuals are extremely detailed, assuming employees will rely on them to answer all questions. Others are more general, assuming that workers will ask questions of others on the job.
In all cases, manuals for your training and development programs have one clear purpose: to help people do their jobs better. But there are other knock-on effects of using training manuals for your team:
- Streamlining onboarding and training
- Supporting standard operating procedures
- Enabling cross-training of team members
- Reinforcing culture of growth and learning
Types of employee training manuals
Training manuals come in different forms, from one-pagers to printed materials to eBooks and presentations. Here’s an example of a training manual template as a presentation:
This presentation template focuses on training employees on how to recognize and avoid phishing scams, which can be exceptionally costly to businesses. Notice how each slide uses simple visuals and a two-toned color scheme to ensure people can easily understand it and take the lessons to heart.
Besides presentations, infographics can also make effective training manuals:
This process infographic explains data collection techniques for infographics (going a bit meta now — don’t mind me). But you can edit it to explain any training process in your company. This particular version is meant to live online, which means employees can access it so long as they have internet access.
A training manual can also be in the form of an ebook, like this one:
Consider an employee manual template like this one for your remote workforce. Simply swap out the app and software icons for the ones you use and update the other items to make them appropriate for your team.
Employee handbooks and training manuals aren’t necessarily the same, though they often include similar or identical content. Use this template to make the best of both worlds by adding a page or two that describe specific tasks or processes that all new hires need to know.
What are the basic elements of a training manual?
There’s no single type of training manual, so your mileage may vary, but generally an employee training manual should include:
- Title page or section: Does the manual apply to a specific task, or is it general, aimed at all employees? You may decide to create multiple training manuals, and having a title page could make it easier for team members to find the right one.
- Introduction: Provide any additional details about what users get out of this manual. This is a good spot to expand on any nuance that might exist. Say your office uses similarly named software for different purposes. The introduction, coming right after the title, can help clarify and avoid confusion.
- Table of contents
- Step-by-step description of tasks
- Important dates, phone numbers and email addresses
- Frequently asked questions
Use this eBook skills training guide as a template for your training manual, particularly if your company’s brand is light and friendly. The bright colors in this template are ideal for companies with approachable personas.
How do you write a training manual?
Writing a training manual can seem like an overwhelming task, and it’s an important one to be sure. But being as organized as possible before you begin the writing process can help. Using the previous section, ask yourself what the audience for this manual needs to get out of it, and then work backward to provide it.
Basically, to create effective training manuals, you can follow these seven simple steps:
- Step 1: Establish the goal of your training manual and/or training program(s).
- Step 2: Determine the processes involved.
- Step 3: Determine the individuals or departments involved in the process.
- Step 4: Identify the ideal steps involved in completing the process or task successfully. The amount of detail added to the steps depends on whether you want to create self-paced guides or brief job aids.
- Step 5: Document the steps with all the details required. To ensure your training manual has clear instructions, you can also add relevant images to the manual’s content — popular options include flowcharts, checklists and standard operating procedures, among others. You can also use a training manual template in this step.
- Step 6: Determine if or when it’s ever appropriate to deviate from the process, and, if so, describe scenarios where this might occur
- Step 7: Put the process into practice and monitor its success or failure; consider the steps needed to improve it and implement them, again reviewing for success
Here are a few other tips for writing your training manual:
- Be only as specific as needed. The fewer words, the better.
- Ask for feedback.
- Define terms people might not know. Depending on your intended audience, you may need to provide more context for certain terms or concepts.
- Use visuals to help break up text and/or explain complex concepts (learn more about that here).
Training manual tips & tricks
Here are some tips and tricks for setting your team up for success with a winning training manual:
Think about your brand
Training manuals provide the perfect opportunity to introduce employees — especially new hires — to your corporate identity. Even in internal materials, you should use your brand colors, fonts, logos and illustrative styles. Doing so from Day One can help ensure new team members are on board.
This onboarding manual template employs a bright and colorful design style that makes it clear to any new hire that this particular organization is fun and approachable.
This talent management handbook, on the other hand, has a subdued, monochromatic look and feel that’s a great match for companies with a neutral, organic brand personality.
If your company is technology-focused, this employee handbook template could be ideal, thanks to its bold use of black and dark blue along with pops of bright colors.
For Venngage Business users, you can apply your brand colors and logos to your training manual templates in two simple steps. First, upload your branding elements to your account or type in your website and have Autobrand automatically extract your brand color palette for you:
Then, open your training manual template and apply your brand colors in one click with My Brand Kit:
Let visuals tell your story
New employees can feel overwhelmed with onboarding documents early in their tenure, which is why I always recommend brands reduce the number of words in their training materials in favor of appropriate visuals. Besides facilitating the employee’s learning process, using more visuals in training can help with knowledge retention and improve employee productivity.
The types of visuals you can include vary depending on the format of your training manual. Examples include data visualization, icons, illustrations, photographs and more.
This onboarding training manual is short on words and long on eye-catching, engaging illustrations and well-placed section headings to keep the eye moving. The combination of brief text and large imagery helps ensure employees will actually read everything instead of glossing over it.
Consider including diagrams and charts like this fishbone diagram that was created to explain how to solve complex medical issues. If your training manual needs to touch on highly technical or scientific matters, this type of diagram is a perfect addition.
Explore the steps of a process with this flowchart, an ideal inclusion for training manuals that need to cover specific processes. Remember to consider everyone who will consume this information. For example, if I were to include this in a general training manual, I would make it broader and describe what other departments are doing while the sales team does its thing.
Give real-world examples
While it’s important to be brief, it’s helpful to give your team members examples of good and bad behaviors, decisions and performance as part of a training manual. And switch them up from year to year so people don’t assume only those examples are good or bad.
This do’s and don’ts job aid infographic is a perfect addition to any training manual, as it gives you a chance to provide useful tips to show people what to do — and what not to do.
Especially when dealing with technology, it’s helpful to show employees exactly what they’re dealing with. This training manual template does that using illustrations, but it could easily be updated to show actual photographs as you explain how to do a specific task.
Training manual FAQs
Have more questions about training manuals? We’ve got answers.
Does Microsoft Word have a manual template?
Yes, there are several training manual templates available in Microsoft Word, though depending on your comfortability with Word, they may be difficult to update for your purposes. Plus, if you want to add multiple images or icons in your training manual, it might be hard to organize that with Word. I’d suggest using alternative digital tools like Venngage for training content editing and training material creation.
What is a training manual template?
A training manual template is a training document with placeholder pages and information that can allow you to quickly and easily add new information. Some employee training manual templates include blanks for you to fill in, while others are filled with meaningful content to help you create effective training content.
This blog is populated with lots of training manual examples — but if you need more templates, feel free to explore Venngage’s templates page. You can create a training manual using one of the manual templates as well — it’s free to get started.
In summary: Training manuals can help you ensure everyone is working from the same script
Whether you’re helping new hires settle in or launching a new process, it doesn’t hurt to have a few effective training manuals in your back pocket. Effective training manual documents can benefit both the employee and the employer, helping to improve employee efficiency and ensure a smoother training/onboarding process.
If you’re ready to create impactful, actionable training materials for your employees, start with a professional training manual template by Venngage.