The skills gap is widening and workers are feeling it. In fact, Lynda.com recently conducted an online survey of nearly 10,000 respondents, and found that about half of them lacked confidence in their job skills.
Related: How to Give New Hires a Great Start
This presents a problem when onboarding new hires. Chances are, they’re feeling the pressure to “know it all” right from the start.The survey found this to be the case with 94 percent of respondents. Such a lack of confidence, of course, would make settling into new jobs potentially rocky experience without the right people and tools to help guide them.
Here are four tips to help bring out your new hires’ best qualities from day one, using the right onboarding and social learning experiences:
1. Provide a training path.
To be successful, every learning and development initiative needs to begin with a plan. New hires need to know with whom they are training, when they’re training and what they’ll learn, so they don’t feel lost coming into work each day. The absence of such a plan – by itself – will kill confidence.
So, define a clear training plan for each new hire to follow. But make sure it's based on the employee’s new position, current level of knowledge and experience on the subject matter. If you don’t, new hires already familiar with the material may feel bored or taken aback that their time is being wasted. Customize the training plan to their needs.
2. Show how and where to ask questions.
No matter how clear the job duties or task steps are, new hires still face unexpected challenges in the workplace. In fact, a Glassdoor survey conducted by Harris Interactive in 2013 revealed that six in 10 workers found their jobs different than they expected them to be.
Questions will pop up, and for a smooth learning experience, new hires need to know where they can get answers. Instead of referring new hires to one person, use the collective knowledge of the entire team to help them out. Create a space, such as a Q&A forum, where they can seek advice from everyone. Crowdsourcing answers will ensure that they get a variety of opinions, for a more complete picture of a process with plenty of tips.
3. Give new hires the tools to contact someone for immediate help.
We’re beginning to see workplaces harness the power of social tools for communication, especially with the sprouting of so many apps over the last few years.
I can’t think of a time when an instant messaging tool wouldn’t come in handy. Trainers and supervisors aren’t always around when new hires encounter problems. They need some kind of communication tool that lets them reach out to others for immediate help, even if it’s just basic mobile messaging. Merely knowing they have the ability to contact someone for help will help them feel more comfortable navigating the unexpected bumps in the road.
4. Schedule one-on-one meetups with more experienced team members.
When set up properly, mentoring can be a frontrunner idea for more confident, competent employees. In my experience and research, the most successful mentorships occur when both people have knowledge to share. This can lead to “reversed mentoring,” a scenario where the less experienced employee mentors the more experienced employee for a session or two on a skill he or she possesses that is beneficial to the business.
As business strategist and benefits consultant Deana Calvelli stated in a January 2013 article in the Philadelphia Business Journal: “Reverse mentoring is an inexpensive way for your organization to make younger employees feel more confident and valued.” Quite simply, younger employees don’t just want to be taught, they also want to teach.“
Calvelli continued with an example of how a two-way mentoring relationship can help close the knowledge gap. “Millennials have the highest level of utilization of social media, while Boomers can share the business savvy they have attained over many years,” she wrote.
Help new hires identify team members with experience in the areas they need to learn. Encourage one or two meetings, and if the mentorship is a good fit, let it continue until either party feels the need to move on. If not, don’t force it. Everyone connects and learns differently, so ensure the mentorship plan is flexible enough to accommodate the new hire’s needs.
One of the greatest challenges when onboarding new hires is the lack of confidence that comes from the minimal know-how a new hire may have when starting a new role. Given the need to absorb company culture, history, department functions, procedures and case-by-case situations, new hires have a lot to take in that first day or first week.
Reassure them. Connect them with other employees and information to learn. Then watch them soar.
What are some of the greatest challenges your organization faces in onboarding new talent? Contribute to the conversation in the Comments section below.