We added a new person to the team today. This new marcom person is extremely experienced in marketing, but knows less about our technologies. As part of the learning process in my organization, new employees are expected to jump right in, sink or swim.
When is it too soon to assign critical projects?
I personally, when starting a new job, like to have some time to get inside the mind of the organization, learn where the people and the stuff are. The first week should be a week where minimal results are required. Unfortunately, at many small companies, time is money. And many times there isn't enough time for the new employee to learn and understand enough to be worth the money.
It is important to balance the honeymoon period with an employee with tasks designed to test the employees competence, as well as deliver value to the organization, but organizations should be careful not to set up new employees to fail. Maybe for a new marcom person, the first few days should be spent educating them on the industry, pointing them to industry resources, and analyzing current content for perspective.
Once they have the where we are figured out, assign them to a smaller project where they can make the final call that won't have a huge business risk like determining a landing page heading, newsletter title or list of targets to mail. After these tasks are completed, have them review the annual or quarterly calendar to research unknown opportunities that make sense in light of the current strategy.
Breaking the first week into many small tasks helps the new employee ease into the new environment, and still gives employers maximum benefit setting up a win win, long-term relationship. With all the time, resources, and effort spent on recruiting, it is important that new hires pay off.