Getting Experienced Newbies Up to Speed

It might be easy enough to know what you should do with a bunch of fresh engineering grads to help bring them up to speed in their first jobs with your company. But what about your new hires who have been around the block a few times? Do you just throw them into the fray, or lump them into orientation classes with the newbies?

Chemical Processing, sister to Control Design, gave some guidance on the subject some five years ago, and it’s still worth bringing it up again as a reminder. In “Make the Most of Newly Hired, Experienced Engineers,” contributing editor Dirk Willard wrote: “Everyone knows a greenhorn needs to be led by the hand in a plant, but operating companies still haven’t figured out how to bring an experienced engineer quickly up to speed.”

Willard contends that a key route will be to give the new hire a project that will let you see whether he’s got the investigative skills necessary for the job—in other words, is he just a wiz on the DCS, or does he have the investigative engineering chops, too?

As Gen. George S. Patton Jr. said, “Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”

What do you or your company do to get the most out of newly hired but experience engineers?