Friday, September 26, 2008

Ideas to get new employees productive quickly

I had answered this question on recently & thought about sharing the same on my blog.

There are times when we are extremely happy to have a new team-member join us. After the initial few days, we realize that the new-hire might need more time to ramp-up, while you had hired thinking about an extra-hand to reach the deadline a lot faster.

What had gone wrong in the whole process? To start with, you could have done a few things to help the new-hire up-to-speed with the happenings in the project.

1. Before DAY-ONE

Even before the employee comes on-board (once both you & the potential candidate have agreed & decided to work together), get them involved in shadow-work with the technical team whenever possible.
(a) Share non-confidential technical data
(b) Get them to attend at least 3 out of 5 tech-meetings with the team before they even came on-board
(c) To a certain extent even incorporating their ideas, with a mention that the idea came from the new-source (new employee) will help boost their confidence.

I’m sure they know the technologies needed & so were hired, but the idea is to bring them to speed on the usage of those technologies in a newer architecture. This would also give them a chance to know the team well, making them compatible. All of these can be done even before they come on-board. Off course, getting a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) signed will help.

2. Ensure you have sufficient documentation of the existing work

This will act as a ‘best-source’ for the new employee to get relevant information, without needing too much of the peer’s or manager’s time. This could also help bring down the learning time considerably.

3. Hiring-Right

Hiring folks with technologies/skillsets that meet your requirement (at least to a 90% fit) will help in ensuring faster understanding of the codes, architecture, processes,etc., The lesser they need to learn something new; the faster they can become productive. The intent should be to get specialists into the role. Tell them of the challenges that you are facing & where they could add value – if they are able to see the big-picture (from 30,000 ft) and yet be able to get day-to-day work accomplished - you have a gem in your hands!

The HR Store