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What new hires need, when they need it

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

You want new hires to get oriented and up to speed quickly, but there's only so much information they can absorb at once. Here are some meth­ods for organizing a comprehensive and comprehensible introduction to your workplace. To determine what new people need to know right away, soon and a little later, consider the following organizing principles:

Draw circles around the job. Start with the job's basic require­ments—what the employee will do under your direction. Then spread out to bigger circles—how the job affects others in the department, and then the enterprise as a whole. Use the job description as a guide, but don't sim­ply rehash what the employee already learned (or should have learned) during the hiring process. Explain what those responsibilities mean in practice, using real tools and systems and working with real people on day-to-day tasks.

Climb the hierarchy of needs. Start orientation with the information necessary for the employee's survival, such as pay and benefits. Move next to security: what the employee needs to do to meet expectations. Create a sense of belonging with introduc­tions to co-workers and organizational history. Later, discussions of reward programs and career development can take you and the employee to the top of the hierarchy.

Write a script for the employee's supper. You know you're going to be new employees' No. 1 topic of dinner-table conversation. Try to organize events that will let people tell posi­tive stories when they're asked, "So, how was your first day?" Let them say, "Great—they took me out to lunch, and drew me a map so I know where everybody's office is." Don't give them reasons to complain about how they were ignored or how they're still not sure what they're supposed to be doing. 

If you follow any of these methods, chances are your new employees will not only figure out how to place an outgoing call within their first day, but also will use that call to tell their best friend, "I think I'm going to like it here."

Bottom-Line Idea 

Want to encourage your people to make decisions independently? Whenever team members come to you with problems they should solve on their own, ask them two questions: What would they do if you weren't here to decide? And what's the worst thing that could happen if they made the wrong decision? Ask these questions consistently, and pretty soon your team will be prepared to answer them—and make decisions—before coming to you.

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