How to Train the New Guy

Being the leader is a challenge, but it can be even more challenging when you have new people join the team who don’t yet know how to contribute.  In the next two minutes I’m going to show you a way to pull the new guys on to the team and quickly turn them into productive members of the organization.  Are you ready?

How to Train the New Guy

Lots of times when new people join the team, they tend to stick to themselves because they don’t know anybody and they don’t know the organization.  As leaders, we can even start to think of them as a burden – they don’t know what to do yet, so you can’t delegate tasks to them. Or you just give them the nastiest tasks that no one else wants to do.

Right Idea, Wrong Team

It was like this at a recent campout I was on with the Scouts.  After dinner and long after the sun had gone down, I noticed that one patrol still hadn’t cleaned up its mess from the meal.  I asked the patrol leader what his plan was, and he said that he told two of the new guys to do it, but it hadn’t been done.  He expressed frustration at having new guys that he had to deal with in his patrol.

Here’s the advice I gave him:  It’s a good idea to team people up to do a task, but when asking a new guy to do a job for the first time, team him up with one of your best veterans to get it done, not another new guy.

Pick the right person

Of course your veteran needs to be the right person.  Of course, be sure to choose someone who knows how to do what is expected.  More importantly, make sure he understands that his role is not only to get the job done, but also to teach the new person how to do it, and orient him to your team’s standards of performance.  He is both a coach and a role model.

How this Helps

Taking this approach helps you out in lots of ways:

  1. The task gets done. Since the more experienced person knows how to do the task, the job is more likely to get done.
  1. The new guy gets trained. In the process of doing the task together, the veteran can show the new guy how to do the task; first by demonstrating, then by coaching the new guy through the process.  (He can even use an informal version of the EDGE Technique to make sure the new guy picks up the skill.)
  1. Training happens faster. Instead of trying to set aside time for formal training, you can accelerate the speed that your new people learn by treating all situations like this as training opportunities.
  1. Instills belonging. This teaming approach also can instill a sense of belonging.  When a respected veteran teams up with one of the new guys and takes the time to show him how things work, they end up with a greater sense of belonging.  People who feel like they belong are likely to stick around, they will be happier, and you are less likely to have to train a replacement any time soon.
  1. Closes the cultural divide between veterans and new guys. Another benefit is that it forces the new people and the veterans to get to know each other, and in the process you are building a better sense of group identity.
Team new people with select veterans so they quickly learn team skills and culture. #leadership Click To Tweet

The Payoff

Once my Patrol Leader got one of his more experienced Scouts involved, it wasn’t long before the job was done.

But more importantly, the new guy now knew how to do it too, and was quickly becoming a contributing member of the team.

The Takeaway

So next time a job comes up, use your veterans to teach the new guys how things are done.  They will learn faster, develop a sense of belonging on your team, and soon become one of the veterans themselves.

I hope you find this tip helpful to you in your role as a leader.  Be sure to check out my website at for more leadership tips.  And for regular Leadership Updates for even more ways to raise your leadership game.

For a detailed look at how one fast growing company is using this approach in a company-wide program, check out Beth Miller’s post about the Sherpa Program at LAN Systems in Atlanta.

Good luck, and we’ll see you next time.

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Photo Credit: tombothetominator via Compfight cc

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About the Author: Ken Downer
Ken Downer - Founder RapidStart Leadership

Ken served for 26 years in the Infantry, retiring as a Colonel.  From leading patrols in the Korean DMZ, to parachuting into the jungles of Panama, to commanding a remote outpost on the Iran-Iraq border, he has learned a lot about leadership, and has a passion for sharing that knowledge with others.  Look for his weekly posts, check out his online courses, subscribe below, or simply connect, he loves to talk about this stuff.

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