Magazine article Communication World

Bring New Employees Up to Speed FAST for Top Performance

Magazine article Communication World

Bring New Employees Up to Speed FAST for Top Performance

Article excerpt

The socialization of a new employee is often an important element helping employees to 'hit the ground running.' Traditionally, new employees are oriented toward learning as much about the organization as possible in a short time--its vision, mission, products/services, policies and procedures.

Although this information is important, much of the real learning occurs once the employee has reached the new job site. It is here that coworkers communicate to new employees how to act, whom to stay away from, and the reputation of the management staff. Organizations basically turn the important socialization process over to existing employees to educate new employees about the organization's culture. That may be a frightening thought.

Suppose a new employee asked you to describe your corporate culture. Would he watch your blank stare as you struggled with the answer? You now see why this component is usually not included in the more traditional educational process. Corporate cultures are typically not defined.

In an attempt to tell the employee something, you would probably begin describing behavioral characteristics of individual managers, such as:

* The CEO is an intense risk taker who is not satisfied with the status quo.

* The vice president of manufacturing has only one way of doing business...his way.

* The vice president of finances is extremely conservative and avoids risks at all costs.

* The chief operating officer works to win the popularity contest.

You are right, that is the state of many corporate cultures -- left to the whim of the personalities.

Even so, the behavioral characteristics of individual managers would be pertinent information for any new employee to know. In the absence of a defined corporate culture, companies could put the behavioral characteristics of their managers in writing and include this document along with other information new employees are expected to read.

Providing this information to new employees in a written format rather than requiring them to learn it through the rumor mill or by trial and error is a logical approach to increase new employees' learning curve on the road to being a high performer.

Do you know why this common-sense approach is not used? Because some managers would not be proud of the written word. The company leadership doesn't want to embarrass anyone by putting in writing the information that other employees already know, so new employees are required to learn this information by organizational osmosis, through day-to-day operations.

Let's return to the issue of describing the culture and begin by defining culture to mean, "the way things get done in this organization." In essence the culture is the organization's personality-- determining how people work together to get things done.

As you think about working together, words such as "trust," "respect," "change" and "communication" probably come to mind. How would you describe the behaviors that institutionalize these values in your organization?

Consider trust for a moment. Would you say that people can be depended on to do what they agreed to do in the first place, to keep confidential information private, to empower employees. Or would you use less flattering words to describe this value?

How would you describe organizational change? …

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