business strategy

New to superstar employee in 90 days?

You could be a business with 5 employees or one with hundreds.  In either case, inducting a new employee is a difficult task. It’s a little like an organ transplant. The body (business) may accept it and the organ(employee) starts doing its job well.  Or the new organ (employee) doesn’t perform, and the immune system rejects it.  Some studies say that it takes 1-2 years for a new employee to start performing up to expectations.  That’s a long time!  And not a practical timeline.

So, how do you convert your new recruits to star employees?  This article has 6 pointers to reduce the time it takes for them to start adding value.

1. Give them tools

This one’s obvious, but still worth stating.  If a new employee is joining, keep everything ready.  That includes workstations, an email id, visiting cards and access to the MIS in whatever format it is in. So, if you’ve just recruited a HR Manager, the recruit needs access to the HR Management systems, the appraisal system and employee records.  Often, new employees are not trusted with sensitive data.  Yet, if they don’t have access to data, they won’t be able to perform their job.  And you’ll never be able to trust them with sensitive data.

2. Immerse them in the company culture

Ensure that your core values are properly communicated.  And your culture is spelled out explicitly to them.  What behaviours are encouraged and which ones are not.  And how work gets done.  For instance, sharing how decisions are made is super-useful information.  Are decisions generally made by consensus?  Or are there certain powerful people whose sponsorship is required before a decision is taken?  All important information for a new employee!

3. Share the big picture

Let say you’re recruiting a sales manager.  It’s tempting to tell them all about the recent sales campaigns you ran and how successful they were.  That is important.  Yet, every employee thrives when working on the bigger picture.  What’s the organizations vision and strategy to get there? And how does their role fit into the big picture?  So, spend time taking them through your grand vision.  And the path your organization has chosen to get there.  Besides more ownership, a collateral advantage is that you get to stress test your strategy on a person without any pre-conceived notions.

4. Getting to know the team

We form impressions of people quickly.  Your new employee is going to get judged quickly.  The first 2-3 months are critical.  Ensure that the new employee is interacting with everyone else.  And if they’re not, make sure that you intervene and push them towards a strong working relationship.  It might feel like social engineering, but it’s the best thing you can do for the employees and your business.

5. Tell them ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do it’

You need to have clear roles & responsibilities for each employee.  That’s especially important for new employees.  A page or two of their key responsibilities will help them better understand their role and your expectations from them.

Equally important is the ‘how to do it’.  It’s usual to think that the hard work is done once we’ve recruited someone.  And then follow Steve Jobs advise – “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”.  Granted, there’s some truth in that quote.  Yet, to expect a new employee to jump into the deep end and meet performance expectations immediately is wishful thinking.  You need to help them understand how they can meet their goals.  What worked in their previous organization might not work in yours.  Or you might have your own way of doing things.

That said, be open to new ways of meeting goals.  You don’t want to stifle the employee.  A measure of individuality in doing things is good.  Which means you need to meet with the new employee regularly and find a middle ground on ‘how to do things’.

6. Give them quick wins

Set 90-day goals for new employees.  A few goals, which are doable in that period.  Which aren’t too difficult.  Ideally, include tasks which involve interaction with other employees.  These quick wins can do wonders for the new employees’ confidence.  And set the stage for bigger wins.

The 90-day goals also put them into action-mode.  Yet, be careful that you don’t put too much action into the mix.  You don’t want them so tied up that they don’t have time to do anything else.  Such as getting to know their colleagues.

Closing thoughts

Be thoughtful & deliberate for the first few months with new employees.  And set a target of 90 days for the new employee to be fully familiar with your strategy, structure, systems, skills and culture. 

A hiring process takes at least a month to complete.  Make a new employee’s induction last longer than that.  Only then will you be able to move the breakeven point – the point at which a new employee starts creating value – to an aspirational 90-days.

Image source here. From The First 90 days by Michael Watkins

What process do you follow to help your new employees become part of the crew? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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