There are some great posts about how companies find good talent. But in my opinion, there are less about how those talents‘ first day/week will help them become part of your Great Team. Over the years, I’ve found that we might miss some of those great talents due to bad timing, adjustment challenges, expectations mismatch, etc. The more common misses are even worse, you might lose out on their greatness just because they feel they are new and still need to learn, or they just fear their first 90 days, which in the end makes their slow start their actual pace.
In order to cultivate a culture of growth, be able to maintain the velocity while bringing in more talent quickly. You need to have a good balance between new employees’ confidence and their outcome/value. You need to find ways to push them out of their comfort zone as soon as possible. Others might call it “throwing them in at the deep end” - there is a thin line between the two. (http://mettahu.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/leaving-your-comfort-zone/).
The most pragmatic approach for all of the above is to strive to deliver a feature (value) in your first week (or two). This specific action actually triggers real discussions about the company flows, values and ways to improve it.
Deliver Value during your first week at work
Emphasizing these values in the first week at work will make new employees more productive and more connected.
Don’t just talk, try to create and deliver something that your customers are interested in. Measure and learn their responses. Did they like it? e.g., sending emails, waiting for reactions — trying to see what people think about your new idea/concept, etc. Analyze the feature’s statistics, and see how your users interact with it.
The fact that I hired you means I trust you and believe in your abilities. Don’t be afraid of the veteran residents, and always treat your friends the same way. It is well-known that every new employee has a lot to learn (some need to learn c#, others html — which are actually the basics). By letting them deliver a feature to your user, you (as the manager) give them the feeling that you trust them. After all, the fact is that you aren’t afraid to give them the responsibility to deliver to your users.
There is always someone out there who knows more than you. It is your job to find them and share your thoughts. It is also your job to make it easier for others to know you’re interested in something or passionate about a specific domain, so subscribe to groups that represent your interests. During the first week, I believe in pushing new employees to share their design with the company for review. Having a Release Demo or sending an Internal Press Release with the new capabilities will help your new employees learn by example/experience why it is important, and who the people are that are actually interested in those ideas/features.
Great, you just delivered something to other people — you are the owner of it. Now it is your job to understand if it works or not, e.g. Didn’t get responses to your emails? Why not? Should you do it a bit differently next time? The two touch points above trigger others to send feedback.
This is the time that your new employee actually feels what it means to own a feature. They usually get to know their interfaces and stakeholders better and how to deal with the hard/complex questions as well.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
So while reading the article of 90 days (the one above), keep in mind that we always want you outside of your comfort zone. Dare to Win. Engineers that are going through this process are way out of their comfort zone. If you’re not sure about it, try talking to them during and after this week. Ask the new employee to document everything new that they learned. Moreover, ask them to document fears they had along the way or things they believe/think should be different. Use this in your next 1on1 meeting. This is a great opportunity to talk about the basics and identify cultural gaps.
Pushing people to start providing value for your product in their first week triggers pragmatic discussions about the values, tools and the process. Let your new employees practice the full life cycle of a feature — from the time the product manager crafted the feature idea till it was actually released to the users — and measure how they are interacting with it.
I urge each of you to try to find your main values, write them down and try to think how you can promote them to your new talent.
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