Have you ever hired a new employee and after a while, started to wonder whether you made the right choice? I’m sure many of us have. This is especially troubling when we hire an experienced individual from another company. The reason the person was so attractive was because you thought they could come in and produce right away. The trouble is, these expectations of early success often lead to disappointment by the manager and the employee as well.
While there is no hard and fast rule for how long it takes for new employees to get up to speed and start to become productive, the conventional wisdom is that 90 days is about right. Some managers may look at this and think that three months is far too long for a person to become a valuable member of the team. In fact, we’ve heard on many occasions that managers hire talented individuals, many of whom have a depth of experience and they should “hit the ground running”.
What Needs to Happen During the First 90 Day of Employment
Let’s think about what needs to happen during those critical first 90 days. Pay attention to the role both the employee and the manager need to play during this time.
This is the easy one. The new employee was hired because he/she had a skill set that was desirable. You want to engage those skills early.
- Employee role – New employees need to come into the organization with a short-term memory loss from their previous experience. Resist the temptation to tell anyone how things were done in your previous job and how much better it would be if the new employer adopted some of those practices.
- Manager role – It’s important with these early assignments that you set crystal clear objectives and understand that regardless of past experience, the new employee will need some hand holding from you.
One of the fastest ways to get your new employee up to speed is to build relationships.
- Manager role – Think about the most important relationships for your new talent to build. For every person you bring on, there are likely 5 or 6 individuals who can have an impact on their success. Make introductions and help them understand why those relationships count.
- Employee role – Make an effort to get out and meet people. There’s a tendency when you are new to just put your head down and try to get used to your new role. Make sure you don’t fall into that trap. In addition to the people your manager has recommended, make it a habit to meet at least one new person a day.
One of the trickiest parts of a new job is understanding the culture of your work group and company.
- Employee role – Take some time to just observe what happens on a regular basis. How to people interact with one another? What kinds of things seem to be valued by the leadership team? Is it a relaxed atmosphere, or one that’s more structured? All of these clues will help you to fit in.
- Manager role – I heard a colleague one time say that you need to help new people learn the ropes. Not just the ropes to jump, but also the ropes to skip. This includes the written processes and rules, but also the unwritten rules of your company. Make no mistake, every organization has them.
Just mastering those three things will easily take 3 months. As we said earlier, there’s no hard and fast rule. Some jobs require less time, and some will require much more. The important thing to remember is that the better you are at focusing on “being new”, the faster you will reach the point where you can start to feel like you are a contributing part of the organization.
Think about the last time you took a new job. What were some of the things that helped with your transition and success? We’d love to hear your story!