In January, I ran an informal poll on Linkedin asking the question, How long did it take you to learn your last new job (to the point at which you felt confident and competent)? Over one hundred people responded to the poll, and 67% of respondents said that it took them between three and 12 months. Even more interesting is that 15% said that it took them more than 12 months to get to the point in their last jobs that they felt confident and competent.
Granted this is an unscientific poll, but the results are likely to be representative of people's performance in their jobs.
If we assume it takes this long to learn one's job well, why is it that most on-boarding programs are so short. Obviously, much of what one needs to learn about the job has to be learned while doing the job. Formal, on-boarding programs cannot cover everything.
On the other hand, leaving that "informal" part to chance is risky and expensive. How much money could an organization save (or earn) if instead of taking new sales people 12 months to learn their job well, it took 9 months? One could ask this question with just about any job function in an organization and come up with some hard dollar figures.
Why not target those numbers when we design employee on-boarding programs? I would like CEOs around the world would hug their training directors with that kind of focus.
What do you think?