Bring new IT staff into the fold -- fast


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Integrating a new IT hire in the midst of a torrent of projects is never easy, but here's one approach that really works

The last few years haven't been kind to many IT departments. While the downturn hasn't hit IT as hard as other industries, staffing has been been flat or down in "nonstrategic" areas related to infrastructure (you know, the jobs that make things run). No surprise, really, that few businesses were interested in adding positions in the midst of terrible economic times -- or that those who have jobs would be inclined to stick with what they have.

But that seems to be changing quickly. Dramatically increased project load, changing skill set requirements brought about by rapidly evolving technology, and the thawing of the economy (however slight it may yet be) are starting to incur turnover among many of the IT departments I work with. Long-needed new positions are being created and filled -- and on the flip side, there's a scramble to fill unexpected vacancies as staffers leave for greener pastures.

Turnover presents an enormous challenge for already overburdened IT departments: After you've worked overtime to find a quality candidate to fill the position, how do you integrate that new hire into the team while you're trying to stay on top of an already crushing workload?

The dangers

In a perfect world, the new hire would get plenty of time to build the institutional knowledge necessary to know how your company does business and a chance to bone up on technologies that you use but they may not have much prior experience with. However, this world is anything but perfect; all too often, the "new guy" gets tossed into the deep end and is tasked with a long-overdue project or trying to troubleshoot a broken system that nobody has had time to fix.

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