The 4 Things You Must Teach New Hires -- Now

Last Updated May 26, 2010 2:39 PM EDT

There is critical knowledge to be imparted to new employees to make them productive from Day 1. This learning has nothing (or almost nothing) to do with bathroom location or how to get IT help for a smoking computer.

Here is a great list devised by Michael Watkins, Chairman of Genesis Advisers and author of The First 90 Days and Your Next Move.

  • Business Orientation. Company values, customers and how work gets done.
  • Expectations Alignment. How performance will be evaluated.
  • Political Connection. Who has the juice, and why?
  • Cultural Adaptation. Is it OK to be a few minutes late to a meeting? Are PowerPoints considered crucial to meeting success?
Interestingly, Watkins says lack of cultural adaptation is the one that most often trips up new managers. It's also the most difficult to teach because we are not reflective ourselves about the business culture we live in.

The Watkins observations are included in an HBR.org blog by Amy Gallo called Get Immediate Value from Your New Hire.

What do you think are the most important things a new hire must learn in the first few months of work to make them effective? Have managers steered you wrong on your first days of a new job?

(Employee training image by aflcio, CC 2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.