Do Something Demonstrable

I had a new employee start a couple of weeks ago. As part of the onboarding experience, I like to have weekly 1-on-1s with new hires to make sure we hit the same ground running. (my nominal 1-on-1 cycle is 3 weeks for ramped up employees.)

Not surprisingly, the question “how long do I have to ramp up?” surfaced in conversation. This is a question I’ve often had when I start new jobs. It’s a question that can drive a lot of anxiety and sometimes even restless nights. Also, since everyone’s different, everyone’s learning curves develop in different ways. This is why having extra-frequent manager-employee communications is so critical in the first few weeks of a new job.

I paused for a few moments when I was asked the question, in order to deliver a well thought out answer – considering what I knew of this employee, her relative experience, the initial interview interactions and the like.

In this case, my response was “we should have something demonstrable within 90 days.” I then explained that she had not yet been working here long enough to experience an iteration demo to know what “demonstrable” meant; that understanding would come with time.

I intentionally avoided committing details to my answer, because she had only been an employee for seven days. We’re still working up that first learning curve. I intentionally used “we” because the first 90 days really does need to be a partnership in scoring early wins and setting the new hire up for further success.

One test of a good leader is to be receptive to questions like “how long do I have to ramp up?” and expect that the shape of each contributor’s onboarding curve is different when answering the question.

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