Getting new people productive sooner

Aug 03, 2009

Getting new people productive sooner is something that everyone who owns an A/E/P or environmental firm should be concerned about. This is NOT a topic that only H.R. managers should worry about. Principals and line managers— not Human Resources— are the ones who suffer the ill-effects of not getting new folks up to speed. So, THEY must assume responsibility for making it happen. Here are some pointers: Be ready when the new employee starts. This means having a place for them to sit, business cards, an e-mail account, a computer that’s hooked up, informing the other employees that a new person is starting, etc. Nothing is worse for a new person than showing up to start a new job and your employers don’t even act like they knew you were coming. Talk about a great way to instill “buyer’s remorse!” Don’t think a quick walk-around with introductions to everyone will stick. People will NOT remember everyone they meet— especially when they are coming in quick succession. You need to provide many opportunities for the new person to meet everyone else there. And while you are at it, why not give the new person a phone list with pictures and job titles? And, how about making sure everyone’s cubicle or office has a nameplate on it? This can help the new person know whom to see or speak with when they have a question or issue they need help with. Do some classroom training. There’s a lot to be said for taking your new people and simply sitting them down in a room for three to five days to pump them full of information. That includes history of the company, projects completed, information about the owners, explanation of policies and benefits, explanation of the organization structure, information about how the accounting system works, how marketing works, and more. Use “shadowing.” There’s a lot to this idea. Have new people following other folks for a day or a portion of a day to learn more about them and what they do. It works. Many times the “shadower” forms a special bond with the “shadowee” that can last for years. Don’t wait too long to sit down with the new employee to ask them how things are going. This should probably be done after the first week and then every 30 days or so for the first six months of their employment. It’s a good chance to assess the new employee’s attitude and morale, and for you to provide some early feedback on the employee’s “performance” thus far. At the risk of being repetitive, do not allow H.R. to take full responsibility for getting new people up to speed. Not to say they cannot help— of course they can— but line management should take the lead. Originally published 8/03/2009

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.