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How to Make Your New Employees Productive Quickly


The Sooner Someone Gets Up to Speed, the Better for Everyone.

So, you have spent a lot of time and energy trying to get a new position filled. You get the requisition opened, approved, worked with your recruiter, did way too many interviews, and finally made an offer to someone and it was accepted.

You are confident that this new employee will be successful and a good team player. You have a lot of choices about how to make this person productive as soon as possible. Attitude usually comes in the door with the person, but it is your responsibility to keep that attitude at a high level while giving the new employee the specific tools they need for success.

There are three stages employees go through on their way to excellence – Novice, Getting There and Expert. What you do, as the manager, at each stage will play a big part in whether or not the employee succeeds. Keep in mind that their success means your success, so take your role seriously and commit to it.

Novice Stage. At this point the employee is clueless about the job and what it takes to be successful. Hopefully, they will be fired up to do the job well and exceed your expectations. One of the first things you should do is try to determine the employee’s preferred learning style.

I have seen way too much money, time and energy spent on training new employees in a style that does not resonate with them. Some people learn best by hearing, some by seeing examples, and some by trying it themselves. Training new employees is not a “one size fits all” process. In this stage, you will need to spend a lot of time explaining, modeling, quizzing, and giving specific timely feedback.

You might consider teaming the new employee up with a more experienced, successful employee. Do not just team them up with somebody who has the time. Make sure the partner has a great attitude and knows something about training people.

If you do your part well in the Novice Stage, the employee will show signs that they have moved into the second stage.

Getting There Stage. In this stage, the employee is showing you that they are understanding what the job entails and are having some successes. Yes, they are making mistakes, but they are human and mistakes are vital to learning. Hopefully, the successes outnumber the mistakes at this point.

They have shown you that their learning curve is shortening. When this becomes apparent, you can back off a bit and take more of a coaching approach, as opposed to the directing approach in the Novice Stage. Have regular face-to-face discussions about progress and give specific feedback.

These discussions do not have to be long, but it is imperative that the employee see and hear you versus getting texts about progress. Something to remember when coaching an employee: It is easier for humans to repeat what they were told they do well than it is to correct what they were told they do poorly. So, pay a lot of attention to what they are doing right.

If you do the coaching and discussion pieces of the Getting There Stage well, the employee will move to the third stage.

Expert Stage. By now, you have invested a lot of time and energy in this new employee. You may have even enlisted the time of other employees to move the development along. If you have done all these things well, the new employee should be showing signs that they have become an Expert at the job.

As much as we would like to just throw people in the mix right away and have them succeed, human development does not work that way. It moves along a continuum of three stages. Movement along that continuum depends on you as a manager, making all the correct development moves.

Your goal as a manager should be to have all of your employees at the Expert Stage, not just your new ones. Experts not only do the technical parts of the job extremely well, they have stellar attitudes about the job, you and the company. When you get all your employees at the Expert Stage, you can kick back and play golf all the time. Just kidding on that one. Whenever you throw people in the mix, there is always opportunity for managers.

One of the challenges to overcome as a manager is the urge to train your employees in the manner you were trained. Walk five miles in the snow uphill to school kind of stuff. Fight that urge and focus on employee learning styles and moving them along a continuum of development.


Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..