Now picture yourself as a brand spanking new hire in your company. It's just like the party scene, except you have to be competent pretty fast if you want to be able to stay. There's no parking by the punch bowl or lurking in the corner allowed. How do you as a leader set somebody up for success?
- Give them the basics - location of the rest rooms, the lunch room, a tour of the building so they can see where they fit into their new world. Also make sure they have some documentation of HR policies such as vacation scheduling, handling of sick or personal days, etc.
- Remember to orient them to the basics of the work tools - Blackberries, the computer network, etc. If you assume that they already know how to use them you're asking for problems. A new employee wants to look competent, so they will be less likely to ask you a question because they don't want to look stupid. The result will be that they'll lose productive time trying to figure things out for themselves. (By the way, new employees are a great way to test the effectiveness of your processes. The best processes are streamlined enough that they don't take long to learn.)
- Provide an effective job-content training process. Sitting and watching someone do the job all day long puts a glaze over the eyes and slows retention. Get them involved. Make it multisensory - explain, show examples, discuss, have them do with coaching, have them do independently and provide feedback.
- Share your expectations to help them do it right the first time. If you like reports to be handed in on purple paper and stapled in the lower right corner, say so. Give them the chance to meet your criteria without reading your mind.
- Early stages of development need frequent feedback, positive as well as negative. Catch them doing something right to reinforce the behavior you want to see. If you only focus on mistakes you'll create a climate of fear.
- Find them a sponsor. You know who the informal leaders are, and who can weave their way through the informal organization. Hook your new person up with someone who can help them feel like they belong. After all, the social connections at work are what keep people going when the going gets tough.
- Show them the context of their job. Work is one of the chief places where people get meaning in their lives. If I tell someone that I staple packets of paper for a living I'm not very connected to a sense of purpose. If I, on the other hand, understand that the stapled packets help to raise the operating funds for my company I've got a purpose. Context leads to purpose, sense of purpose leads to motivation, and motivation leads to better performance.
- Set goals. Early on, short term goals are better. I might set a goal to learn how to operate a teller station (and balance my books) by the end of the week. Later I can learn how to open new accounts - that might take 30 days. Keeping the goal's time frame short gives the new associate ample opportunity to experience the thrill of victory early on, which keeps your future key employee feeling positive and motivated.