Onboarding and training are necessary for a new team member’s growth. When people come into our companies, we have to make sure they learn to speak our language – learn to use our tools, follow our processes, and work the way we work. The higher the new hire’s level, the greater the learning curve because that person must be familiar with more information. As a team, we must support our new team members in climbing that curve as painlessly as possible.
Sometimes, though, it is harder than it looks, and I often wish the learning curve could be faster. I want to use this blog to explore ways in which we can help our colleagues.
Assign a Mentor
At any level, people need a colleague to show them the ropes. A great strategy is to assign someone from a different department as a buddy or mentor; they will make new friends within the company outside their immediate team. Furthermore, if they have questions that they do not want to ask their supervisor or someone from their team, they will have a ready buddy who can help them find their way. A lot happens that is not written in manuals or procedures within a company. People need information that they can only find through the grapevine, and that is what a friend will teach a new person.
Having opportunities for people to meet others in the company is also very helpful. We have monthly company-wide meetings and events as often as we can so that people can become familiar with others in the company. The more they can access information from others, the quicker they will climb the curve. They will have more resources from different departments to help them solve problems more quickly.
Processes that are easily assignable by role are important to help people onboard quickly and know what is assigned to them and what they are supposed to be working on. Established processes have reduced our onboarding time significantly. If each person can see their responsibility daily and in general, everything will be much clearer.
Processes are not a magic pill. We have found people who do not embrace our processes or follow their spirit, and when that happens, we have to ensure they understand their importance for our company. But when they work as they should, they can make a person’s transition into a new role much smoother.
Hold initial training sessions so that each person can become familiar with how the company operates and learn on the job. I worked at two financial services companies before settling into real estate: one was as an external auditor and the other as an investment banker. We had large classes of auditors and associates come into the company at the same time. Because they were organized to have so many new people in the same role come in simultaneously, it made sense to have one training program for everyone.
General training sessions may not work for all companies, as many will have different people coming into different roles at various times, so holding general training sessions won’t work in this case. Since each position is so different, it would be difficult to hold a general session for each role.
When people first come into the company, we hold sessions for our basic tools and systems. We also give them a tour of everything within our company. People will not take time out of their schedules to see the rest of the company, especially if you have more than one location. They will get a better overview of the organization from the very beginning.
After that, I believe the best way to learn is on the job with a person training them. The investment is worthwhile, and people will be able to leverage their knowledge in their roles.
Good luck helping your new teammates move up the learning curve faster!