New Starters – Getting fluent in your company lingo

I had lunch last week with educator Stephanie Burns and we chatted about the concept of fluency. Stephanie is literally getting fluent in Italian, while I am using the concept to talk with managers about the needs of their new employees.

What does it mean to be fluent in the language of an industry, the lingo and culture of an organisation, or the dialect of a team?

Some of our new starters are new to the industry and when they start they are immersed into another culture where some of the norms, practices and vocabulary can be quite strange. Even the business models (the grammar of the industry) may be very different. It is in manager’s best interests to provide some phrase books and support, so our employees don’t make fatal faux pas (and we don’t need a French phrase book to understand what that means).

Other new starters know the industry but need to translate their known vocabulary into the right phrases of your particular organisation and those transferring from one team to another, already know the organisational ‘phrase book’ but may need some help with the local team dialect and those pervasive TLAs.

The starting point, as Stephanie reminded me, is answering the “why become fluent quickly” question first.

And the answer is – because it makes good business sense. People who confirm to themselves that they have made a good decision by joining your company tend to stay longer, they are more positive and confident and they become more productive more quickly. The alternative – ‘drowning’ employees – are not good for the company and it is excruciating for the individual.

How do you do it? Get together a list of critical things and people to know and make sure there is support to help the person translate what they read and hear into what they need to do. Information and access to the people who impact their roles are equally important.

If you are interested in assessing or developing your New Starter programs, give us a call to discuss. And stay tuned for a further article on ‘Getting fluent in the language of leadership’.

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