Hiring and training a new employee is only the beginning of your work relationship: You have to manage her, too. But there isn't a one-size-fits-all managing style, and not all employees are ready for responsibility at the same pace.
So how do you know when your new hire is ready for a real workload? You follow our lead:
Start with a simple test
Give your recruit a short discrete task with a deadline, so you can quickly judge her ability to interpret and deliver on your request. Make sure this task requires a bit of organizational research and interaction, as this can help gauge how she's fitting in.
For example, “Our company develops training workshops for teachers. For our best-performing workshop, find out how can we offer Continuing Education Credits (CECs) from some university we have a relationship with.” This requires the new hire to go get information before actually embarking on her task: What is our best performing workshop (and why)? How do CECs work? Which universities do we have agreements with?
Now sit down and discuss how she approached the task, who she spoke to, what she learned, and what she recommends. Did she find out who owns the various university relationships and talk to those people? Did she do independent research? Did she bring back any new knowledge? Does she exhibit an understanding of the current organizational knowledge and how her own contributions fit in?
After your hire has completed the assignment, discuss the results
If your new staffer demonstrates a satisfactory blend of organizational and external research and ideas, and has opened sufficient relations within the organization to contribute positively to the team, you can manage with confidence: Assign a bigger chunk of work or give her greater responsibility. But continue periodic inspections and discussions to tune performance and remove roadblocks incrementally.
If you’ve received something different from what you asked for, get an explanation. Did she misunderstand the assignment? Did she find something she thought was better but failed to check with you whether the substitution would be acceptable? This is your early warning opportunity to clarify communications and procedures, identify additional training requirements, or tighten controls until you’re satisfied your employee is better integrated into your system and ready for more autonomy.
Put it all together
Even if you're confident you can give your new hire her independence, you can still keep an eye on her...or rather, her peers can.
Peer reviews enable a hire to run at her own pace between periodic checkpoints. Set up councils of mostly experienced employees, plus one or two new ones, to conduct project reviews at particular milestones, i.e., near completion of requirements definition, implementation plan, component testing, etc. The environment must be collaborative, both to ensure your new hire regularly receives advice and guidance from peers and superiors, as well as to spread knowledge and to ensure her preparation and support.
Feedback recurring themes to the training department and to team leads, and watch even your newest hire start pulling her weight like the pro you hired her to be.