Training Time

I have a few new designers starting at Marketo in the next 30 days.  One of the most important, but neglected, aspects to having new employees is giving ample training time before they are asked to do critical work.

I can’t even count the number of times I saw someone doing something poorly because they just didn’t understand the context of the task.  When you enter a new job, you need to learn the company’s products, culture, people and history.  If you don’t know these things you will absolutely create more problems than you will solve.

Marketo presents this problem in a special way because we are growing so rapidly that new employees outnumber old employees.  In this situation, it is imperative that everyone play their part to create time to orient to the new surroundings.

Interestingly, new employees have a special feature.  They have fresh energy.  It’s this new excitement and energy that breaks through barriers and innovates new ideas.  However, fresh eyes and energy without understanding the past will often yield exactly the same mistakes previously made.

It’s when you can marry that new energy with historical context that you get positive results.

I give new designers 3-4 weeks before I ask them to do anything critical.  I ask them to shadow sales, support, training, education, engineering, product management and others to understand who the people are and how they do their work.  I ask them to learn the products and the vocabulary.

How much time were you given in your previous jobs to learn?  A week? A day? An hour?  How much did you wish to have?

One reply on “Training Time”

I remember when I started working at Nylon Technology, day one they told me to take 3 days and learn everything I can about Macromedia (currently Adobe) Fireworks. It was the graphics tool they used. That was like 9 years ago. The beneficial effect of that concentrated 3 days still has a positive effect on my day-to-day work.

Also, when I started at Koko Interactive, Ben Peters forced me to learn HomeSite++ / ColdFusion Studio. Again, that was an awesome learning opporutnity / requirement that, like Fireworks, echoed in my day-to-day for about a decade.

I wish I had more things like that.

Whatya think?