Walking down the hallway of the high school I remember clinging to my friends, grateful there were eight of us who had come together to start Grade 9. Despite that I felt awkward, out of place and nervous. It is a similar feeling when a new employee starts on your team. I have a friend who just started a new job and it reminded me of all the new hires I had over the years. I wonder now looking back if I gave them all I could to make their experience as positive possible.
When starting someplace new we are looking to fit in, belong and be able to get our basic needs met: food, clothing and shelter. Consider this if you are the one responsible for hiring or orienting new employees. Make sure you are providing them the information they need to have these basic needs met.
What time is lunch? Where do they eat? Where can they put the food they brought? Do they need to put their name on food items? Is there an expectation around when to take lunch and coffee breaks? How ridged is that? Just like in families, meal times (or lack of) set the tone in an organization.
A new employee needs to know how they will fit in. Sharing with them the norms and values around breaks and meals will help them adjust easier to the routine of the organization and let them to put aside their worry.
What is the dress code? I mean really, what is the dress code? What is stated in the policy manual is not always what really exists. Give them an idea of what the expectations are. Does it change on different days for example casual Fridays? Is there a different expectation for meeting days or when “someone important” visits the worksite?
The term “business casual” really does not mean anything anymore. The styles and options are so vast that one needs to be clearer. Give them as sense of exactly what dress pants means. A pet peeve of mine is ladies wearing yoga pants as dress pants however it is ok in some places. (More on that in a future blog post!)
Where do they park their vehicle, put their jacket, boots, briefcase and purse and which desk is theirs? Is it really their desk or are there times when others can use it? What are the rules about shutting their office door (if they have one), answering the phone and emails?
Our homes are our sanctuaries and at work, if you have the luxury of having an office (yes, it is a luxury) or if you just have a workspace is also your sanctuary. Employees need to know if they can make their workspace their own. Bringing in pictures from home and being able to decorate it a bit makes it their own, which helps reduce stress and create ownership, both of which are good in work settings.
Take consideration for new employees. It is a stressful time for them and one that will stay with them for a long time. I vividly remember my first days of work in a couple of places. They set the tone for my connection with the team and agency. Be considerate of what “first impression” you are making on this person
“I don’t have anything to share.” WHAT? You have nothing to share? You’ve come to a meeting focused on sharing and you have nothing to share? Are you serious? After two meetings of hearing that again and again yesterday I got just a wee bit frustrated. The whole point of a sharing meeting is to share. Here are some tips to help you attend these kinds of meetings.
Remember first that you are a person with tons of value. You have knowledge, wisdom and experiences that no one else has. And your perspective of that is unique. Sit up taller, roll your shoulders back and be confident (or fake it til you make it).
Second, consider there can be many benefit of a sharing meeting. You as well as others in the room learn more, have more options and therefore increase effectiveness of you work. Just like creativity flows when a lot of colors are made available to an artist, the more voices into the room allow for more creativity in your community. And synergy happens when energy is put into the room. Sitting back, arms crossed, head down mumbling “I have nothing to share” creates none of that.
Finally, organizations run better, services are provided better to clients and employees feel more connected and supported when they network and build relationships. In order to build relationships, people need to get to know you, the type of worker you are, your passions and interests. Sharing helps others to get to know you. It shows that you value putting in as well as taking out of the joint bucket. It demonstrates a willingness to be open, honest and real. And honestly, if you ever want to change jobs, partner or access services what a great venue to flaunt your stuff for other agencies.
Here are some ideas of things to share at a sharing meeting
1) Events going on in your organization
2) Staffing changes, office moves, program updates
3) Challenges with clients, programs and services
4) Training that you’ve recently taken
Those are the routine ones…now get creative…
5) Accolades to other agencies, workers, your own employees about work they’ve done
6) A good book you’ve read related to the field – Bonus points if you offer to lend it to anyone who wants
to borrow it
7) A great resource, website or tool you’ve found that worked well
8) A story of success with a client
9) An inspirational quote that gets everyone thinking, motivated and jazzed
10) A place that you have really grown or learned lately and how you did that
Sharing for some takes courage. Practice what you plan to share ahead of time and be prepared. The value of sharing at sharing meetings can’t be understated. It’s a two way street and everyone need to put their input in.
I was talking with someone yesterday about their boss. They were complaining about how they didn’t get support from them. Annoyed, irritated and discouraged you could visibly see the impact it had on them. I’ve experienced that many times throughout my years as a leader. I would complain to anyone that would hear me. Swearing, ranting and honestly badmouthing them. Where did it get me? Nowhere really. I can’t change someone else. And talking about them behind their back certainly didn’t have any impact that I seen.
Now I could tell you that you should go talk to them about how that made you feel. Communicate with them about your needs and what you want. And yup – you can do that. You probably should do that. But you need to do more. You need to step into leadership. Turn around. Look at those you lead. What are they saying about you? What type of leader are you?
Being a strong leader means walking the talk. If you want others to support you, respect you and be there when you need them, you better be doing it too. What happens when something goes wrong for one of your employees and they reach out to you? Are you too busy to help them? Maybe you truly are. But what would you want if you were in their shoes? Acknowledgement that they are struggling? An indication of when you might be able to help them out? A possible alternate source of immediate support?
When you complain about how others are treating you. Look in the mirror. See how it impact you and be sure you aren’t doing the same thing to those you lead. If you want to be a great leader, it takes courage to be honest with yourself too.
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