8 Ways to Start Your New Hire Off On the Right Foot

Congratulations on your new hire. But if you thought the recruiting process ended with the acceptance of the job offer, think again. You’re now in charge of a recruit so green she comes with a fresh car smell.

Lucky for you, we know how to smooth out those rough edges in no time. Here’s how to turn the “new guy” into the “old pro.”

Introduce her to everyone they’re likely to interact with

Obviously, your new hire needs to meet her colleagues and learn their job descriptions, as well as determine how their jobs impact hers. But you also need to introduce her to others in the organization—particularly team leads, the senior manager of the group, and key players in neighboring teams.

This has two benefits: 1) It gives her a better picture of how her team works with others in the organization as a whole. 2) No team is an island, and a new hire is an excellent excuse to improve relations across the company.

Assign a mentor

A mentor isn’t just useful for untangling the work-related snarls that always seem to entrap a newbie. A mentor can also introduce her to the culture of your team. Considering every job has both good and bad aspects to its culture, a mentor can assure that she encounters only the best aspects off the bat, as well as cut off cultural problems before they demotivate her.

Task the mentor to encourage the new hire to ask questions, just in case she’s shy about speaking out.

Give her simple tasks…

Throwing a new employee in at the deep end is a great way to demoralize her and encourage her to quit. Don’t place the person who still has to prove her worth into a sink-or-swim situation, because it strongly suggests you don’t know how to manage. And who wants to work in a team like that?

Give the new employee simpler—not trivial—tasks to start with, to ensure that she is not overwhelmed. This will also let you set expectations and have a measurable way to assess progress.

…but important ones

At the same time, don’t give new hires the simple but tedious jobs nobody else wants to do: That’s another good way to encourage her to quit. Make sure she’s doing something relevant, and delivering it is actually important. This way, the rest of the team can see she’s not just here to fill a quota.

Later, when she is properly integrated, you might not need to oversee her. But to start with, it will help you monitor her progress and give the employee a clear sense of what is and isn’t expected of her.

Keep her options open

Try to expose the rookie to what the rest of the team is doing, so she can appreciate the full range of the team’s responsibilities. If she shows interest in another aspect, you might find she’s a better fit for a slightly different role than the one you’d originally had in mind.

Interested employees are happier and more productive, so being flexible may net you bigger gains than simply slotting them into a role when they walk in the door.

Make sure she takes advantage of training

If your company offers training courses, make sure they are aware of them, and perhaps even require she joins in—even if it’s not directly beneficial to her role. Many recently hired employees are anxious to show their worth and reluctant to spend time that might appear to be “goofing off.” Setting this mandate can help the neophyte take advantage of the company’s efforts to improve employees’ skills.

If your company doesn’t offer any training for new employees, you likely have retention problems. And if you think taking training is goofing off, you have bigger problems.

Schedule a daily/weekly/monthly checkup

While your team lead and mentor are taking care of the onboarding of your new hire on an informal ongoing basis, don’t overlook the value of a formal checkup to see how she’s doing. It will give her a clear opportunity to voice concerns and give you the chance to feed back any performance issues or suggestions.

Putting this meeting on the calendar will also allow her to plan what she might want to say in advance, while at the same time keep her receptive to feedback. More importantly, it reminds your new hire that her onboarding process is considered to be important to the company.

Show her the coffee machine

Because caffeine is the most important meal of the working day.

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  • Alfred Poor

    Excellent advice, Carol. To your thorough list, I’d add one more point:

    Give her a notepad and a pen. Encourage her to write things down, from how to find the lunch room to the name and phone extension of the IT help line, to how to get the department printer/copier to relinquish her print jobs. She will be inundated with names and places and procedures and details, and having a quick and easy place to record this information as it comes flying by can help reduce stress for both her and for people who would otherwise have to repeat the same instructions over and over.

    My only nit is that one person’s “tedious and trivial task” is another person’s
    “relevant and essential task.” Rather than place a value judgment like these on an assignment, instead take the time to show her how the assignment fits into the broader picture, and how that work will be used to save time and make others more productive. (And if the job isn’t producing value for the company, then why do it in the first place?)

  • MariePearle

    I am technically a new hire to my team, although not new to the company. My coworker is brand new to the company and they haven’t done half of these things for him. I would also add, don’t include only a few weeks of training to a brand new hire. Have that person spend at least one day a week training for several months. The training for new hires really is crappy at the company where I work. Then all of the buyers we do work for expect everything to be 100% perfect.

    Don’t t fire one of the only people who is responsible for training him halfway into his trial period, when I am also new to the job and primarily know my tasks, and not his so much because I don’t do them every single day. Also, don’t cross-train your employees right away and expect them to perfectly know each others’ jobs in a few months, especially when the brand new hire is still learning the ropes of what the company is all about.

    And if you’re a supervisor, don’t make one new hire the unofficial supervisor for the other new hire, swamp her with work that she has trouble getting done because of the other new hire’s incessant questions and constant pestering because he is bored to death, and then work at another building constantly so she is the only resource the other new hire has. Yeah. Thanks for that.

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