By Nick Field
They say first impressions count and this couldn’t be truer than when you’re helping a new employee integrate into your team.
There’s a mixture of excitement and nervous energy as the new employee tries to establish themselves in their new surroundings and the existing employees suss out the new member of the group. It’s your job to make sure this process runs smoothly.
Showing Them The Basics
After greeting them to the premises and showing them to where they will be working, you should take them through the basic setup of your office and give them the grand tour. Show them where to make a cup of coffee, where to hang their coat, where the toilet is, how to dial an outside line on the phone, where they can park their car and all the other important aspects of daily workplace life.
Always try and take your new recruit out to lunch on their first day with a few colleagues so you can get to know them in a more informal environment. Don’t be tempted to bring too many people as you don’t want to over intimidate them on their first day.
If possible, assign them a mentor who does a similar job to them who they can learn from when you’re not available. Ask the mentor to let them know about the best local sandwich shops, where you can go for a nice pint after work and any important pieces of office politics. It would be useful for them to know if the person who sits opposite them is the son of the Managing Director to avoid any foot-in-mouth moments!
Learning The Ropes
You then need to slowly start providing them with a drip feed of information that will help them do the job that they’ve been employed to do. Direct them to the company website to allow them to begin researching what it is your company does and how they will fit into the grand scheme of things.
If there is a handover document from a previous employee who held the position then get them to read through it thoroughly and make notes where required. You should also keep a copy of this document so you can track how well they are picking up the various aspects of the job.
You should have a good idea from their CV and the interview process about how much existing knowledge your new recruit has, but even the most experienced of employees will need a certain element of training. As well as organising a formal training programme, aim to schedule in some time for them to get to know the job and the systems on their own. Sometimes there’s nothing like digging around to see what you can uncover yourself.
You should schedule regular meetings throughout the duration of the probation period with clear goals for the new recruit to meet at each stage. This will give them something to focus on and you something to judge them by.
Over the first week or so you should encourage your new employee to set up meeting with all the people they will be working with on a day-to-day basis. These can either be done as group or 1-2-1 meetings. Rather than setting up the meetings for them, it’s better to suggest they make approaches themselves as it will help them get to know names, responsibilities, meeting room protocol, etc. Introduce them to the person from finance who will sign off their expenses, the IT team who will help when their computer fails and the mailroom team who will make sure their post gets in and out.
They will also need to get in touch with suppliers and clients in order to introduce themselves and find out about how the business relationships operate.
When Things Don’t Work Out
No matter how good your recruitment process has been, sometimes you can simply make the wrong decision. There are plenty of reasons as to why a new employee might not fit in. From their side, they might not enjoy the work as much as they expected. Maybe the commute is too far. Maybe they have been offered a better position elsewhere.
From your point of view the employee may just not be up to the job or there may be a bad mix with your current crop of employees. Probation periods are there for exactly this reason and until they are over there is the opportunity for either party to walk away without any repercussions.
Whatever the reasons, it’s better for everyone involved to approach the subject as soon as possible. It takes a bigger person to admit they have made a mistake than to carry on as if nothing is wrong.
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