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How to Power Up Your New Hires Job Performance for Increased Productivity

learning proficiency onboarding orientation

How long will it take your new employees to achieve the required job performance level? How competent do they need you to be? By when?

Even if they are experienced in their profession they will still need to handle many significant learning curves because of the unique requirements of their new job and organization.

There’s a learning process they need to go through to achieve their new job's required performance level.

What is Proficiency?

Proficiency is the quality of having great facility and competence. Every new employee needs to demonstrate job competencies to a certain level of proficiency.

Competencies are a set of observable behaviors that provide a structured guide to identify, evaluate and develop key knowledge, skills, and attitudes to perform the job effectively. These competencies could include communication, problem-solving, and customer service.

So, how long should it take your new hires to become competent and demonstrate the required performance?   The sooner they can perform at the required standard of job performance, the better.  What every employer highly values is accelerated job competence. 

Closing Job Performance Gaps

New employees will need to take in and process a significant amount of information during the initial months on the job. They need to know how to accelerate their own acquisition of job knowledge and skills from point ‘A’ to a higher point ‘B’ level.

They may need in-depth training, reinforcement and coaching to achieve the required job performance level.

Help them identify their new job performance gaps by figuring out the difference between their ‘current’ versus the ‘required’ job knowledge and skills, i.e., what they need to learn to become proficient in their job.

Figuring out their job performance gaps will help them know where they are on the job proficiency continuum, i.e., not proficient, somewhat proficient, proficient, very proficient, highly proficient.

Here are specific ways to identify their job performance gaps:

  • Observe (job shadow) a job proficient colleague in your workplace as they perform a job that is the same as or similar to your new employee's job
  • Compare and contrast the new hire's job knowledge and skills to a competent peer / colleague
  • Observe (job shadow) your new hires in your workplace as they perform their job and give them feedback
  • Prepare and check off a list of the required job competencies, i.e., what they can currently demonstrate
  • Ask them to complete one or more self-assessments to determine their own job competence
  • Ask them to complete tests / quizzes to assess their key job knowledge and skills level

Computer Systems and Applications Proficiency

From the first day of employment, new hires begin comparing what is similar to or different from their new job compared to their previous jobs. For example, almost every job requires the use of computer systems and applications.  This is even more true today in a hybrid / remote workplace.

When the computer systems and applications are the same as or similar to what they have used in previous job(s), then their time to competence, or proficiency, is very fast.  They already know and have used the underlying structure and navigation protocols of the software. 

However, if one or more organization-specific computer systems are not only different from but better than what they’ve used before then they have a learning challenge. A computer system that’s better, even if it’s more complex to learn, will be valuable for them to learn. They will increase their current and future employability by upskilling / reskilling to learn the new computer knowledge and skills

Unfortunately, some computer systems may be different from and worse than what they’ve used in their previous job(s). If the system's features and functionality are worse then it will be frustrating to learn and it will hamper their performance.  Hopefully they will be able to recommend better computer systems or upgrades so everyone on the team can improve their performance levels.

Acquiring relevant and up-to-date computer knowledge and skills will always be a professional competence asset.

Organizational Language Proficiency – Terms and Acronyms

Have you ever stopped in a hallway at work and eavesdropped on a group of your colleagues talking about a business challenge? It often sounds like they are from a different planet. They are using terms that only someone from that area of your business or profession could understand.

Business-speak happens in every organization. When new hires are being oriented and onboarded to a new organization they are learning that organization’s language. Don’t underestimate the negative impact on their performance when they can’t quite understand what people are saying, especially in meetings.

One of the fastest and cheapest ways to achieve higher job performance levels is help them learn the language (terms and acronyms) used in your organization. Make sure you give new hires an organization- or industry-specific glossary (online resource) that also includes the meaning of acronyms. An alternative is to ask them to prepare their own glossary of terms and acronyms.

Encourage new hires to spend time asking for explanations of key terms, with examples and analogies, so they understand the key concepts used within your business or industry. The sooner they can really understand what others are saying and speak the same organization-specific language, the faster they will demonstrate competent performance.

Summary - New Hire Time to Proficiency Advantage

Becoming proficient faster will make your new hires more valuable to your department/unit and organization. The key to achieving this result is taking specific actions to accelerate time to competence.

  • Identify and eliminate new hire job performance gaps
  • Continuously upskill and reskill new hire computer technology knowledge and skills
  • Help them learn organization- and industry-specific language (terms and acronyms)



Valerie Dixon, M.Ed., CTDP, President of Learnware Design Inc., (www.learnware.com) is a leading learning efficiency and effectiveness strategist and thought leader in the field of workplace learning and performance.  Valerie has over 40 years of experience in all aspects of performance needs analysis, learning organization strategy development and learning design.  She is the creator and designer of programs and products that accelerate job competence™.


We are workplace learning experts who work with organizational leaders and employees to accelerate job competence™ for increased performance, productivity, and profits.


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