Maximize the value of new hires


By William Seidman

Recent scientific breakthroughs have led to the development of a methodology and supporting technology that increase new hire program effectiveness by both improving the quality of the learning experiences and enabling easy integration of the best of the classroom and mentoring experience. This approach is proven, with significant impacts such as:

• Reduced ramp-up time of new sales people from 4 months to 4 weeks

• Reduced ramp-up time for manufacturing floor engineers from 24 months to 8 months.

Seem far-fetched or too good to be true? It’s not.

Paradigms for New Hire Development:

Most new hire programs rely on either intense, classroom-based training or ad hoc on-the-job mentoring (OJT). Both approaches have some strengths, but also significant weaknesses.

The primary advantage of intensive new hire classroom training is that it occurs in a controlled environment where the organization can determine what the new hire experiences, when they experience it and how they experience it. Unfortunately, many new hire training classes simply provide too much information, too quickly and with too little context and application to be effective

OJT mentoring programs, on the other hand, are all about learning through observation of colleagues’ performance, discussion of key functions and supported practice. The new hire gets to experience, at least for a period of time, what the work actually demands. But, OJT experiences are often quite random and the learnings derived from the experiences are completely dependent on the effectiveness of the mentor. Unstructured OJT may be more engaging, but it is not a particularly reliable means of ensuring that new hires have the attitudes, knowledge and skills they need to ultimately succeed.

A few organizations try to use these two approaches together by providing classroom training followed by supported OJT. This too has faltered because too often the class is still overwhelming and the hand-off to the coach is unstructured, leaving the coach to determine what the reinforcing experiences will be. Integrated Class and OJT

Recent studies have shown that the key to ultimate new hire success is not in simply using these approaches together, but instead by integrating them into a single, unified experience. Breakthroughs in four areas – positive deviance, fair process, neuroscience and mass customization — plus the emergence of “persuasive technology” have led to the development of a methodology that effectively integrates new hire training classes and high impact OJT support. More specifically, the model has 4 key parts, which I’ll be talking about next.

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