Breaking in New Hires

BOSTON (05/15/2000) - New hires are typically raring to go and want to hit the ground running. The problem is, many employers trip them up by being unprepared for their arrival. Valuable time and energy is wasted by poorly planned programs for new hires, or no program at all.

Bringing new employees up to speed isn't the stuff of rocket science, but it does require a strategy. Here are six tips on quickly getting your network newbies started:

1. Have an orientation plan.

Don't wing it by waiting until the new hire walks in the door before you consider what you're going to do with that person.

Prepare a schedule that details the training and orientation program and lists the people whom the employee will meet on the first few days at the job.

When staffers report to work at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC Management Consulting Services in Fairfax, Virginia, all the infrastructure they need is in place, including work space, PC, phone, passwords and logons, building access and a training schedule, says Pamela Weber, a principal consultant with the firm.

Nevin Anderson, IT manager at furniture manufacturer Mity-Lite in Orem, Utah, gives each worker two thick binders that list step-by-step instructions for a variety of technical procedures. New hires spend several hours poring over these manuals.

2. Conduct a formal orientation session.

Whether it's done online or in a classroom, new hires need to learn essential information immediately. Application service provider Interpath Communications in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, offers classroom orientations on employees' first day of work. The session covers basic topics such as benefits and employee policies and procedures, says Lynn Koehneke, manager of performance development services.

Bob Jones, vice president and chief information officer at Moore Corp., a Toronto printing and business communications services firm, says his program could be more formalized to give new employees a broader view of the company.

"Their initial exposure tends to be highly focused on the project they're involved in. It would be better if they got an orientation to what the whole IT department is about," he says.

Bob Zawacki of Zawacki & Associates, a consulting firm in Colorado Springs, Colorado, recommends tailoring the program to specific employees. For example, some IT personnel travel often, so they would need instructions for making reservations and submitting travel expenses.

3. Put workers in the field pronto.

"Most people learn quickly with hands-on experience, which is why we put them in the field as quickly as possible," says Craig Bodkin, service manager at Systems & Services, a Charleston, South Carolina, network integrator. Get new staffers out of the office, even if only to watch senior colleagues do their jobs.

4. Consider a supplemental orientation program.

PricewaterhouseCoopers' Weber says some IT groups bring recent hires back for orientation after they've been on the job a few weeks. This gives employees the opportunity to ask questions they didn't know to ask the first time.

This type of program also covers such topics as career planning, opportunities for skill advancement, and the types of projects the company is conducting.

5. Implement a mentoring program.

Systems & Services assigns every new hire a mentor. "The purpose of the mentor is to show the new person the ropes, how the company does things and the proper procedures," says Bodkin.

Bodkin generally has each new staff member work with three mentors - one per week for three weeks. This gives him feedback from multiple sources about the employee's ability and how he or she fits the corporate culture. Moreover, the company can tailor its training and coaching to individual needs.

At Moore Corp., a new employee's immediate supervisor usually serves as the mentor. But when a boss lacks management experience, the manager one level above takes on the mentor role, Jones says.

6. Offer training.

"Things change so quickly in terms of hardware and networking," says Garrett Grainger, vice president of IS at Dixon Ticonderoga, a manufacturer of writing instruments and office supplies in Heathrow, Florida. Grainger sends his staff to obtain any network certifications they lack soon after they're hired. Along with providing knowledge and skills, training sends the message that a business is willing to invest in its employees.

Horowitz is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City. He can be reached at alan@ahorowitz.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about GraingerInterpathInterpath CommunicationsPricewaterhouseCoopersPricewaterhouseCoopersPronto Software

Show Comments

Market Place