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Onboarding: Selecting a Job Tutor

Choosing the right person to tutor a new employee is easy, isn’t it? A lead worker, typically a level 3 position in DHS’ job family classifications, is often tasked to serve as the job tutor for new employees. If you don’t have a lead worker, it should your most experienced employee, right? Not necessarily. There are at least 3 important things a supervisor should take into consideration when selecting someone to tutor a new team member.

Competence of the Potential Tutor

Here are 4 stages of competence relating to the psychological states an employee typically experiences in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence:

  1. Unconsciously Incompetent – The employee neither understands or knows how to do something, nor recognizes the deficit. In common terms, employees in this first stage
    don’t know what they don’t know.
  2. Consciously Incompetent – Though the employee does not understand or know how to
    do something, he or she recognizes the deficit; they know they don’t know.
  3. Consciously Competent – The employee understands or knows how to do something,
    however demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires a great deal of consciousness or concentration. These employees know they know, but have to think about the individual steps of a task.
  4. Unconsciously Competent – The employee has had so much practice with a skill that it becomes “second nature,” and can be performed without concentrating too deeply.
    These experienced employees commonly complete their tasks without having to think
    about the individual steps.

In order to help new employees progress through the first 2 stages to become consciously competent, it is important they learn those individual tasks and processes, as well as why a particular step is vital to accomplishing an overall goal. If the job tutor you assign is unconsciously competent, you run the risk your new employee may have significant gaps in his or her learning.

Teaching Ability of the Potential Tutor

When we were in school, you may have had a teacher or professor who was an unquestioned expert in a subject, but lacked the ability to pass expertise on to students. Likewise, your best and brightest employee may have the ability to perform, but not to teach (sometimes referred to as “kinesthetic competence”). An employee who has the ability to both perform and teach is sometimes referred to as having “theoretic competence.”

Models Desired Behaviors

Behavior is often the outward expression of attitude. To say that attitude isn’t important would be absurd, but only behaviors are truly visible and measurable. In the things to do before a new employee’s first day, it is recommended the supervisor prepare the workgroup. At times, this requires the supervisor to explain and enforce expectations of behaviors toward and around the new employee. Do not assign a job tutor who has a negative view of the work or DHS.

Note: If you haven’t already reviewed the CSS Onboarding Process, which supplements the DHS onboarding process, please do so now.