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
My son started a new job this week. He will be in training for four week and the same individual will train him for the entire time. My son is not overly impressed. It led me to have a conversation with my husband about orientating new employees. Over the years in our respective jobs, the two of us have trained countless employees. The biggest tip I have for leaders is to share the load.
Orienting new employees is critical for the success of an organization. This sets the stage for their employment journey and lays the foundation for how they work, what they learn and how they find the answers to things they don’t know. The orientation period introduces a new employee to the culture of an organization. They figure out what the official policy and procedures are and quite frankly they quickly figure out the unwritten rules of the organization like how long the breaks really are, who really runs the show and what the overall work ethic of the team is.
The orientation period is a time for you to get a sense of this new employees capability, their learning styles and work ethic. You will be able to determine if they are going to fit into your team and if you want to keep them. You will identify where their strengths and passions are and where you will need to focus more.
Don’t leave this all up to one person. Have different staff, supervisors, peers and yes, even subordinates spend some time involved in the orientation. The new employees will discover the benefit of seeing things from a variety of perspectives and styles. It will give them a better understanding of why things are done the way they are and potentially give you an objective “outside” perspective that may help you to refine some of your systems.
Individuals have different learning styles. Some are more visual, others auditory or kinesthetic. Likewise, teachers have different teaching styles. A new employee may pick up things from different people orienting them in different ways. One teacher may say this is how we do this. Another may show them and a third may have the new employee do it themselves with guidance. Each time the new employee is allowed to receive the information in different ways and through much needed repetition without driving the teacher nuts but saying it again and again.
By sharing the load of orienting new employees you provide a strong base for the new employee to start their career with your organization. Having different teaches gives both the new employee and the organization benefits of variety, flexibility and insight. Next time you are orienting a new staff, look around your team and see who you can creatively pull into the orientation process. You will be glad you did.
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