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Tips for Getting New Employees up to Speed Quickly

Whether you call it onboarding or staff induction, the amount of time, effort and thought that you put into welcoming a new employee to your company will have a tremendous impact on how quickly they will be able to contribute to your bottom line. How can you get your new hires up to speed quickly?

According to author Michael Watkins, the founder and chairman of Genesis Advisers, there are four domains that new hires need to master: business orientation, expectations alignment, political connection, and cultural adaptation. Most onboarding plans focus on the first two domains, the formal side of the organization, but helping new hires understand the informal side of your company will accelerate their acclimation. Here are three tips to help your new employee become productive faster:

1. Actively help them make connections. Identify which employees are going to be the most important points of contact or resources for your new hire, and establish a formal process for them to meet and start building a relationship as soon as she starts. Make sure all employees know when a new person starts, and encourage them to stop by and say hello. Provide an organizational chart and an office seating plan, to help make sense of all the new people, titles, names and departments she will be introduced to. And if possible, have a trusted team member share the unwritten rules and subtleties of office politics.

2. Start them working on an assignment right away. Immediately giving a new employee a real project — as opposed to ‘busy work,’ or handbooks to read — will jump-start their acclimation and establish that they’re in ‘working mode,’ not ‘training’ mode. This may seem like a no-brainer, yet many companies start by giving new hires a stack of reading and a series of trainings. Giving them real work immerses them in the way things function at the organization. Put them on a real team where they can work on a real business problem. This exposes them to the company culture, introduces them to the ways things get done, and helps them to begin making the critical connections they need to productively contribute.

3. Remember the basics. Remember that the new person is a human being, with all the usual wants and needs. No matter how senior, a new employee will have concerns about fitting in or their ability to do the job, or worry about getting lost or looking stupid. Help them relax and engage in their new surroundings by showing them where they can find food, drink and bathrooms. Have a workspace, all security and other passes prepared and ready, and be sure you allow yourself enough time to make sure the new hire is acclimated before you have to move on to other duties.

Most onboarding processes focus on how to provide the new hire with the tangible information she needs to succeed. But that will only take someone so far. Helping a new employee make connections and ensuring she understands the inner workings and culture of your company will help her become a successful member of the team quickly and easily.