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Five 'Landmines' New Hires Should Try to Avoid

September 16, 2011
Related Topics: Strategy and Management
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To commemorate my first full month on the job, I decided to reach out to an on-boarding expert and find out where I might have screwed up.

Was it a good idea to wait an entire month before doing this? Potentially. But, like most new employees, things were moving so fast and furious those first couple of weeks that it was difficult to stop and think.

At any rate, I took some time out this week to chat with George Bradt, founder and managing director of PrimeGenesis, an executive on-boarding firm and the co-author of a number of books including Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time.

Bradt, who’s authored a total of three books on the subject, was such a delight that I’ve decided to split the posts into a two-part series. The first will focus on the top five mistakes—or “landmines,” as he called them—that new hires make. The second will turn the tables and take a look at the top five mistakes talent managers make in on-boarding a new employee.

While beginning a new job is challenging on a number of levels, there are plenty of areas where new hires should pay particularly close attention.

Here are five landmines that could potentially doom new hires:

Doing Your Due Diligence

Once the pure elation of getting that job offer wears off, after you’ve finished doing back-flip after back-flip in euphoria and gone out and bought that giant plasma TV for the basement, new hires need to sit down—before accepting the job—and take a good hard look at what’s on the table. It’s important to understand the risks—on a role level, an organizational level and a personal level.

It sounds simple, but all too often new hires fail to evaluate what they may be getting themselves into if they take the job. Making sure to do proper due diligence to realize the risks associated with the position is an imperative aspect to the on-boarding process.

Bradt compares this to jumping off a cliff into a large body of water. Like accepting a new position and joining a new company, there are several risks going in that could affect success. “They have to know where the rocks are” before jumping into the water, he said.

Relationships

Whether you’re a new hire stepping into an entry-level role or a seasoned leader taking on an executive position within an organization, there are relationships to be privy to and maintain. Not being conscious of the type of relationships one should make could lead to a challenging on-boarding experience. “This is one that trips a lot of people up,” Bradt said. “A lot of times, its not so much the relationships that people know,” or those that are obvious, like with your direct boss, “it’s the relationships that they [new hires] don’t see.”

This harkens back to the first miscue—know your organizational chart, and understand what are the relationships to build up, down and across.

Getting Up The Learning Curve

Frankly, as Bradt put it, this is the most straightforward. Getting up to speed and learning everything you need to know to do your job well is essential. “You got to learn about the right things fast,” Bradt said.

Failure To Deliver

“The killer is failure to deliver,” Bradt said. “You’ve got to deliver what people expect you to deliver. You have to manage expectations.”

This means constantly communicating with superiors to validate what you’ve been doing since joining, and making sure that you’re following through on your deliverables in the right vein.

Failure To Adjust

Change is constant in the corporate world. At any point in time during the on-boarding process (lets say the first 90 to 100 days) new employees need to be aware of change and how it affects their role. This could mean a restructuring of the reporting chain; knowing, once this happens, what new relationships you might have to cultivate.

“Make sure you’re monitoring what’s going on in your organization and make sure to understand the causes to any changes going on,” Bradt said. Knowing when to adjust to the big changes and not over adjust to the smaller ones is key.

With that said, happy Friday!

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