It has always amazed me at what a poor job companies do bringing people on board. I have to admit myself to throwing people to the wolves before. Typically, no matter how good your intentions, you hire people when you’re overrun and can’t dedicate the proper time to them. It never fails- you have to be way behind before you can prove that you need help.
This does not mean, however, that you can’t bring someone onto your staff quickly, efficiently, and get them up to speed in the fastest method reasonably possible. Here’s a few simple steps that will go a long way.
1. Necessities First
Most folks get this part at least partly right. Show them to their desk. Show them where the bathrooms are, the copy machines, the break room. Don’t forget the other essentials too: where the mail room is, where they get office supplies, where the benefits folks are, where the helpdesk is, where their timesheet and expense report info is at.
2. Put Them In Touch
Give them a desk. Have their computer, their email, and their phone ready. Also have a phone list and an org chart ready for them, at least of their own department and their own project team. This way, they can get in touch with who they need to once they get started.
3. Have Their Research Ready
Have their network access set up and ready so that they can reach all of the necessary documentation on their initial projects. They’ll have a lot of catching up to do.
4. Use the Buddy System
Assign them two mentors- one is for their project and their new job. This person is probably very busy, as they are often also the person who has to compensate for the new person while they get on their feet. The second person you assign is the culture mentor. This person knows what most of the company acronoyms mean, the culture, who to contact when you need this and that. They’re not an expert on the new person’s job; they’re just an expert to help them understand what’s going on, who to talk to, when, where, and how.
The new person obviously needs to understand each project they’re assigned to. Give them a copy of the project charter for each project and the latest status reports. More than that though, they need to understand their overall place in things. Ask their boss, their boss’s boss, and up the chain to write a simple one paragraph to one page summary of their goals and expectations. You don’t have to do this for every new hire; if your organization makes it a practice that every member of management write this once per quarter or once per year even, it will help a lot. Your new team members will be able to read these and understand where each member of the chain of command sees their organization going, which in turn tells them where the company is going.
Take the time to build this level of preparedness within your company. If you can do so, and maintain it, you’ll find that when you do bring someone new on board, they’ll be able to get up to speed and be valuable much more quickly.