Rising Pro

How to Help a New Hire Succeed

It’s hard starting a new job.

Everything is new, you’re not exactly sure where to go with questions and you often feel overwhelmed with all the information coming at you. But after a few months, you start to get your bearings, learn where to go for answers and feel more secure in your role.

I remember experiencing all of this recently when I started working at Salesforce this past summer. I went from confused to confident in a matter of months, but what made it easier was having coworkers who were willing to help me get up to speed. Without their guidance, I might still be lost!

Although it can be time consuming, annoying and even stressful to help out new hires, it’s important to remember how lost you felt on your first day, even during your first month. Just the thought of it will put you in the mindset to help someone feel confident as soon as possible.

But there’s something else you should keep in mind when offering help; don’t fall victim to the curse of knowledge.

The curse of knowledge is a “cognitive bias that leads better-informed parties to find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed parties,” (Wikipedia, July 2015).

Basically, it’s hard to remember what it’s like to not know what you already know. This happens more often than you think, especially if you’ve been working somewhere for a while.

But what seems obvious to you as a veteran employee may not be so obvious to a new hire. So when you’re addressing a question, make sure to give a comprehensive and clear answer that’s easy for anyone to understand, even someone outside your company. Here are some quick tips:

  • Don’t use internal acronyms or lingo unless you’re spelling them out
  • Give them some context
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Anticipate questions and address them in your response
  • Ask if everything makes sense

Also, although it may be hard at times, give people your full attention when addressing their questions. This will help you focus on providing more helpful insights and get them on their way faster, since they won’t have as many follow-up questions.

It’s easy to forget what it was like to be a new hire and how hard it can be, but try to always remember that feeling. Don’t let the curse of knowledge keep you from helping new coworkers be just as successful as you are.

How have you helped a new hire succeed?

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