Having started a new job this past spring, I’ve had some firsthand experience in starting out in a new IT (networking/sysadmin) role. And I have since become pretty sensitive about what I think is one of the most important things with new IT hires.
Recently, more talk has surfaced about IT hiring the right people and then training them for their job, as opposed to hiring only people trained for the job and hoping they have the ethics and soft skills needed to do a quality and loyal job.
One of the biggest challenges, and in my mind, mistakes, in managing my new employment has been lack of real training when starting the job.
Let’s face it, even in the midst of regulations and standards flying around about how IT should secure and run their operations, there are no two shops that do something even as simple as track and allocate IP addresses the same, let alone all the other little stuff and multitude of settings in servers and devices (one of the reasons I really do not enjoy Windows Sysadmin work as much as networking). This means that any new people are either going to sit back and wait to be shown what to do, or will attempt to dive right in and possibly screw something big up either right away or maybe not even detectable for months or years. While I do believe in just getting things done, I’ve seen what happens to people (especially in my last job) when they make a simple mistake or move forward too quickly and how that will paint them in the eyes of the people who matter and write the checks, even if those same people were the ones who put the pressure on getting things done quickly.
So I feel that job training early on is paramount, especially for any Windows Sysadmin type of support work that is not very finite or narrow.
Training will also acclimate new employees with existing employees to gain some team cameraderie, which will more quickly open the avenues of discussion, collaboration, and comfort in asking for help when needed.
I think the best form of training is not necessarily documentation, although that is highly important, but actually just doing some shadowing of coworkers for not just a half day or even a day, but for a few weeks, to get used to the tasks, load, culture, and attitudes of the job role and team. In this way, also, the new employee made confide their own comforts, interests, and desires to their colleagues more than a manager, and thus their niche in the team may more quickly develop. This might bog down the existing employee who is being shadowed and sharing some of his workload with the new person, but in the long run, this is far better and I think will lead to a happier worker.
I feel that very, very few IT sysadmins and networking people can step into a job and do an effective job without lots of experience or in a contractual role that is narrow by definition.
Unfortunately, with my current job I had about a week and a half of corporate training with HR, phone systems, and other general stuff like benefits and customer service. This is all good and fine, but I had maybe a half day with the most senior analyst that I work with, and got shown the physical data center and where some things are. That was about it, for the most part…which has left me, 6 months later, still feeling disengaged and not entirely happy or comfortable with the job and network I work in. It is definitely an uphill battle that I am having to slowly tackle as the tasks slowly mount.