Nobody likes to be the new kid at school. In seventh grade, it might take months before you managed to feel comfortable in the classroom and the cafeteria, much less at the Fall Fun Dance. But in the workplace, you can’t wait months for people to stop feeling on edge.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re hiring a driver or a CFO; your employees and customers are all impacted when newcomers don’t transition well into the role, which includes feeling at home and comfortable with whatever it is they’ve been brought on to do. So how do you make new employees feel comfortable right away?
Make things explicit.
There are some things we tend to state explicitly: Here is your computer. Your job title is Lead Alpaca Groomer. You are responsible for supervising Lou, Jericha, and Liz. But there are other things we tend not to state explicitly: You’ll be given a heads-up that a lot of meetings are occurring, but you aren’t expected to attend unless you get a calendar invite. Don’t ask Maria to fix the printer just because she sits next to it, that’s actually Wendy’s job. You really do need to participate in at least one of the Alpaca Adoption outreach events we have every summer, or people will feel like you don’t take our mission seriously.
Nothing gives people more anxiety than the unknown. People would literallyrather receive a guaranteed electric shockwhen they know what’s coming thanmaybereceive a shock sometime down the road. Ambiguity is what keeps us up with overthinking at night.Did I misunderstand when she said I could leave early? Should I make up the hour working from home?If you have the chance to provide clarity on an issue, do so! This is especially clear when it comes to things that relate directly to your new employee’s performance.
Provide plenty of feedback.
This is really a subset of making things explicit. You might imagine that your employee would understand that if you’re not critiquing your work, they should assume they’re doing fine. Or you might assume that the mistakes they’re making now are a part of their learning process and that they’ll naturally grow out of them as they become more familiar with the role.
Unfortunately, neither of these is necessarily true. Letting new employees know that they’re on the right track or providing quick course corrections when they seem to be missing the mark is key to making them feel comfortable. They know you won’t let them flounder and fail, and that you appreciate good work and progress. Companies that provide regular feedback experience14.9% lower turnoverthan businesses that don’t. Multiply that by the outsized impact of initial impressions, and you can see how critical it is to provide regular constructive feedback to your newest employees.
Be a human.
It’s important to remember that you’re not just hiring a worker, you’re hiring aperson.Make sure to have conversations face-to-face (or at least on the phone if the employee is working remotely). Introduce them to their colleagues. If they’ve relocated for the position, make sure they know about community events and resources. Not everybodyappreciates sharing details about their life, but if they mention their kids/hobby/pet tarantula, take an interest.
You don’t have to do it all alone.
It may be that you don’t have time to have many one-on-one interactions with your new employee, especially if you have a lot of new hires at once and a lot of high-level responsibilities to boot. But like many other time-intensive tasks that are nevertheless important, this is something you can delegate.
Assigning a mentor or buddyto a new employee can help them get the personalized attention they need without overwhelming your schedule as a manager. Not only does this help your new employee feel at ease in their new workplace, it also provides valuable experience in some critical management skills for the mentor without the added stress of taking on full-fledged supervisory responsibilities.
Wishing someone would mentoryouon this process? We can’t necessarily grab coffee and work through a plan for helping your new employees feel at home, but we’ve created the next best thing.New Hire Activation - The Employer's Guide to Mastering the Introductory Periodwill walk you through the basics. Not only is it free, you don’t even need to buy it a latte to pick its brain. So why wait? Grab your copy today.