What can learning to drive teach us about onboarding new employees?
A hell of a lot, actually. If you’re a manager, think of your new employees like they’re on their first day of driving, ever. On their first day, you’ll give new employees the vehicle to do their work, the freedom to drive their career, and build a better company. But you probably covered these steps in the interview. They’ve been excitedly awaiting the day; what will they do now that they’re on the job?
For the first time, you can see what they do with the keys.
An accepted offer is like a signed Learner’s Permit. It’s an agreement to pursue working together — and that takes a lot of learning, from both sides. Do they jump right in and find their own answers?
A simple way to determine your new hire’s confidence level is to give them the opportunity to interview your team. Allow new hires five minutes to grill current employees about anything and everything. The short time will also give new hires the opportunity to showcase themselves and their personality to their new peers. How ready do they seem to jump in and get going?
If your new hire is a bit shy, that’s okay. But help them get acclimated.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to get new hires up to speed successfully. They might not want to floor it right away — and that’s alright. But this is where you need to take charge. Make sure they get exposure early in their tenure. Give them meaningful projects and help them succeed. What’s going to make them confident? Practice, practice, practice. Just make sure you’re in the passenger seat.
Hesitant employees aren’t going to perform nearly as well as the confident ones. In any role, the ones willing to take responsibility and move forward on their own are the ones who will succeed. Make sure your employees are comfortable doing this early and often.
You do have to let them on the freeway eventually.
A new hire that isn’t afraid to challenge ideas and bring a new perspective is a real asset to your team. Be sure to let them show these traits if they have them. Let them go out for a joyride.
Eventually, you have to be alright with letting them take responsibility and lead projects on their own. Encourage employees to chase big ideas on their own. Use previous projects as an example and ask to be surprised with their innovations. If you did the rest correctly, you’ll be amazed at what can happen when you give your team room to experiment and achieve on their own.
Inevitably, all new employees are going to make mistakes and crash every so often. But so what? In business, crashes will happen. Make sure you give them the keys and ask them to get somewhere in between.