The New Employee

Sadly, many new employees do not have the best day on their first day at work.

It’s pretty easy to blame human resources. Maybe you work for a company where the new employee program is boring, confusing, detached or (worse) absent. This will not be a good start for the enthusiastic new employee. However, because, as the supervisor, you will be the most important person to the new employee,
how you welcome her into the company will have the biggest impact.

One of my clients, Sam, supervised about fifteen help desk technicians. Sam’s day was filled with putting out fires – like customer computer issues, or fielding complaints about the help desk technicians who couldn’t solve those problems. When I met Sam, he was overwhelmed with repair work and people problems.

Most of the time, he was angry that his techs weren’t performing despite the fact they were all well-credentialed. Sam had no prior experience supervising employees, and was promoted because he was an excellent technician. Sound familiar? Sam hadn’t been trained as a new supervisor so he spent his days winging it. It was not a pretty picture – his employees received inconsistent interaction and Sam felt that he was in constant crisis mode.

Sam was discouraged. His staff did not seem cohesive, there was high absenteeism and work was not completed in a timely fashion. Overall, he was unhappy with his employees and their performance. He was at a loss.

We started with the basics – how were new employees welcomed and trained?

“By human resources,” he said. Once a new employee came to his unit, he figured they were ready to learn the IT systems at the company. Each new employee was given a week to train on the system and were then told to, “Feel free to ask questions whenever they wanted.” End of training.

We began the new program by reviewing how each employee had joined the company, how much time Sam had spent with them, what he knew about them, how each one fit into the group and what their career goals were. He was astonished to find how little information he had about his employees. He didn’t know much besides their names and assignments. Both of us agreed that some changes needed to be made. Sam was an active participant as we developed the New Employee Plan for his unit. This may be helpful to you, as well.

The New Employee Plan:
  • Sam will personally welcome each new employee. He will accompany each one to his/her well-stocked workstation. Each new employee will be introduced to the other team members.
  • Sam will arrange a one-on-one meeting on the employee’s first day. One purpose of the meeting is to learn about the employee as a person. Sam will share a bit about himself, too. Sam will also discuss the purpose of the unit and how it fits into the needs of the company. He will talk about how his group works and what his general expectations are for the group as a whole. The meeting will take no longer than an hour, but preferably thirty minutes. If more than one employee arrives on a given day, he can meet with both at the same time.
  • Sam will arrange for the new employee to have a “Transition Mentor.” This mentor, a peer but not necessarily a technician, will show the new employee how to get supplies, explain various meetings, tell him who does what from a staffer’s point of view, and give information on how to get around town if the employee is new to the area. The company will pay for one lunch if that is mutually acceptable to the new employee and mentor. The Transition Mentor is a company companion or advocate during the orientation period for up to two weeks. The Transition Mentor goes to the new employee, rather than have the new employee seek out someone for general assistance.
  • Sam developed a thorough help desk training program, and assigned a designated trainer to work with new employees on technical training. The trainer is assigned for up to one month and advises Sam if the new employee seems to be struggling. In that case, Sam meets with the new employee to evaluate the best way to help.
  • Sam developed a thorough help desk training program, and assigned a designated trainer to work with new employees on technical training. The trainer is assigned for up to one month and advises Sam if the new employee seems to be struggling. In that case, Sam meets with the new employee to evaluate the best way to help.

 

Finally, Sam will follow-up with the new employee at the end of the three-month probationary period. If the employee has successfully completed the probationary period, together they will review the new employee’s progress and identify any concerns or outstanding issues. If there are any outstanding issues, Sam and the new employee commit to working these out.

If you give time and attention to the new employee from the very first day, you will have begun to lay the foundation for a positive relationship with that person. Just a little effort can offer big rewards later for you and your team.

 

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