Being a new hire is better than being the new kid in school – but not by much. Basically, it comes down to the fact that you don’t know very much about the basics.
You might have three PhDs, founded your field or otherwise distinguished yourself as a total brain. But you still don’t know where the bathroom is. You don’t know how to use the copier and, when it comes to corporate communications, you don’t know how your new firm uses any of the technology even if you’ve used it in other roles.
Integrating new employees into the corporate communications system is vital to their success. In fact, failing to do this makes their success improbable if not impossible.
There are two basic trouble spots you have to address with new employees when it comes to corporate communications: technical and procedural.
The technical aspect is probably the easier of the two to address. Every phone system is different, email programs vary in how they do what they do, and the more options there are, the more training is needed. So, provide it. And given that I was born when Kennedy was president, I can say this without being accused of ageism: older recruits are probably going to need more hand-holding on the technology side, so be prepared to provide it.
Part of the on-boarding process needs to include hands-on training with the software and hardware your firm uses. Think of it like this: everyone with a driver’s license is presumed to know how to drive. But every car model has its own quirks. The seats act differently, the blind spots are bigger or smaller, and sometimes, you have a manual transmission, or the steering wheel is on the right. A little practice goes a long way even with experts. If the size of your firm and your budget allows, put it all in a document that is easily referenced in addition to actual training. If not, make sure the first couple days include one-on-one tutorials and practice. Following Bob around is America’s default in training, and it won’t work here.
Trickier are the procedural types of issues. Emails, instant messages, shared files, and video all have different strengths and weaknesses. None, and I say this based on my almost 40 years of being in business, is as good as face-to-face communication, but FTF is time-consuming and isn’t needed for more mundane types of interchange. It certainly isn’t practical for one woman in New York to talk to someone else in the Tokyo office regularly. Without some kind of guidance, though, you wind up with 150 emails a day, and still people miss important information. And I would be surprised to start a job at a new firm and discover that they had already codified these things. So, do a survey of how your existing employees use these things, figure out what the best practices are, and share that across the company.
Now, when a new member joins the team, on-boarding is much easier. Emails are used for this, IM for that, phones for this, Skype for that – and don’t forget, a ten-second walk down the hall can save an entire afternoon of misunderstanding via email.