How do you get new staff to perform faster?

My eldest daughter is in her 3rd year of University and just recently started an internship.  It has been wonderful to watch her excitement and joy about taking what she has been learning and apply it in the workforce.  One of the challenges that she faced in her first week was having to work remotely.  This made it a bit more challenging to get to meet others and feel supported as she was new into the role.  She has just started her second week and she went into the office and absolutely loves the culture and the people.

This got me thinking about how we bring new staff into our teams.  If they are remote it can be very challenging to fit in.  Being given tasks that may occur in the morning and then left alone until the next day is something that happens too often.  Recently I asked a Senior Manager about their new staff member and what they had done to get them up to speed.  His response was very interesting.  Because he had been so busy the previous week he had not had much time to work with the new hire.  Instead he just had them have video calls and when in the office watch a couple of other staff.  What a terrible start to a new company!

Too often I hear a leader complain about a new hire after a month or two in the role.  When I ask what they had done to get them up to speed the first couple weeks, they very rarely have a good response.  Every leader knows that they should be investing this time at the beginning of the relationship with a new hire, they just fail to prioritise their time to make it happen.  

Here are a few ideas that you can use to help get your next new hire up to speed faster:

Map their First Week

Before they start, map what they will be doing every hour for the very first week.  Ideally you will have a number of different activities for them including:  you teaching them specific processes/skills, them watching and learning from other departments, observing colleagues to learn processes, etc.  Block out 1-2 hour blocks for each of these areas.  Also ensure that you meet with them at the beginning and end of each day, to set the scene and debrief their experience.  This sets them up for success and makes you look like an organised rock star (given most other leaders are hopeless at it!)

Turn boring observation sessions into leveraged learning

The most common thing managers do with new staff is have them observe a more experienced person to learn specific processes.  This often leads to boredom and most of the time they will not be able to duplicate the process on their own (a massive loss of performance opportunity!)  A better approach is to let them know a bit about who they will be observing and give them 3-5 questions that they will need to observe/gather and report back to you.  This ensures that they are switched on and actively learning, rather than just going through the motions.

Get them to Mystery Shop the Competition

Once your staff get introduced to your processes, have them mystery shop the competition.  Give them a list of questions that they need to find out which may include:  What do they do better than us?  What do we do better than them?  How do our products/services compare?  What recommendations would they give to improve?  This will engage them and fast track them to learn how you compare in the marketplace, which can also harness some insights from their fresh eyes.

If we just took the time to plan out what we will do with new staff to get them engaged and up to speed faster we would be creating organisations worth belonging to (not to mention setting up a high performance culture!)

Next week, the 8th of March is International Women’s Day and Hands Across the Water has an amazing breakfast event planned featuring the inspirational Edwina McCann, editor-in-chief of Vogue Australia.  There are still tickets left and it would be great to see you there (and you are supporting a wonderful charity!)  Click here to find out more.