Joining a new company can create a lot of stress and uncertainty. Sure, with a new job comes a lot of excitement and possibility, but also a lot of new responsibilities and expectations. What surprises me is that many firms do such a poor job bringing people into their firm and culture at the start.
Many firms welcome you aboard, point you to your desk, walk you to the copier and the restrooms and ask you to get started. While that opens a few important doors, that's not nearly enough to bring someone on board. When you stop to think about the formal and informal networks, the true power structures within your organization, the local "dialects" and three letter acronyms, the required processes and the little known shortcuts, an individual in a large firm may require six months or more before he or she is really ready to work well within the culture.
As a person who earns his living as a professional consultant, I know this because I have to get acclimated to every firm I work with. Some firms have a good sense of what it will take for me to be more productive quickly. They identify who can help get decisions made quickly, and will work with me to outline the local language and cultural norms. Other firms don't do that quite so well, but I have learned a few coping mechanisms along the way. If you want your new employees to be productive and get on board with the standard operating procedures quickly, you need to have an "onboarding" process that does more than point them at their new office.
For starters, identify a cultural mentor. This can be a buddy that has several years of experience within the firm, a person who is willing to help identify the true power structures, required forms and translate the three letter acronyms. Smart new hires will generally identify someone to buddy up with anyway, but for the more cautious or unwitting new hire, assign them one.
Next, spend a few days of training to educate the new hire on the organizational chart, his or her place in the organization, how decisions are made, whether people prefer email or voicemail communication and so forth, to help them understand the day to day working protocols of the organization. It may help to draw up a short list of the three letter acronyms, local "language" and other unique characteristics of the way your firm works.
Third, have the people within the new employees chain of command meet with the new hire and explain the goals and strategies of the organization, and their expectations of the work quality and quantity. You'd be surprised how many people I meet within many firms who can't enunciate the key goals and objectives of their boss, their boss's boss and the company as a whole.
Fourth, have the mentor or another designated buddy identify how to "get stuff done" within the business unit or business function. Every team has a particular way of working, and the sooner that's identified and the new hire gloms on to the preferred method of working, the better.
You may think this sounds like a lot of effort - and you'd be right. But bringing a person up to speed quickly within the corporate culture and helping them understand how to work effectively within that culture is something you can teach, or hope they'll obtain on their own. If you don't provide some of these teaching and coping mechanisms, you can count on an employee who is bewildered and ineffective for a least six to nine months.