MANAGEMENT: ARE YOU GIVING NEW EMPLOYEES A FIGHTING CHANCE?
For a manager integrating a new employee can be a tricky game. The tedious process requires you to train, teach and support someone brand new to your environment, while conducting the rest of the business as usual. Considering the time and money it takes to successfully bring someone new onto your team, it’s an effort that should be done right the first time. For the manager who lets out an already-exhausted sigh, you’ve got a problem. Yes, working a new team member into the mix can be difficult, but it can also be a great opportunity to refresh the rest of your team. By breaking bad habits and switching up some perspectives you can not only welcome someone new to your team, but you can challenge the collective effort of the whole.
Some managers might argue that the most important thing to do with a new employee is allow them to focus in on the individual tasks at hand, and they would be partly right. Absolutely, understanding and mastering the new individual duties should be an employee’s main focus. However, they also need the right attitude in an effort to better align themselves with your cause.
Why was this business created? What were the founder’s motivations? What is your mission and what ideals are held to the highest standard? The answers to these questions do not require a huge chunk of invested time up front; however they do deserve some attention on day one. Attitude is everything, and if your employee is going to find a fit within your culture at the very least they are going to need to be introduced to its shape.
Before you bring in a new employee it is a good idea to clean house in terms of bad habits. Current employees who take shortcuts and cut corners off of your set standards will leave a bigger impact than any formal training manual. If you’ve let certain attitudes and unacceptable activities fall by the way side, now is the time to correct them. Note: if certain “cut corners” make more sense to the business and provide a better customer experience, consider hearing your currently employees out and making a formal change.
Once you introduce your newest employee, it is a good idea to set them up with a mentor in the form of your strongest current team member. Avoid training inconsistencies by having a conversation with your designated mentor first, to make sure you two are both on the same page.
Also, provide a simple training outline that your new staff member can carry along with them in their earliest days. Bullet points can outline the things they should learn and accomplish in the coming week(s), and data storytelling can be a great visual way for people to learn new tasks. Have them check off each task and follow up on those they need help with. While training should be fluid enough to match the flow of your business, it also needs some added structure. New employees will be comforted with a tangible plan that they can match with your verbal directions.
ROOM TO BREATHE
No matter their natural state, when a worker is new they are bound to carry a little more nerves and anxiety than usual. The potentially good news is that new employees feed off of your attitude and use it as a reflection of their performance. This is why it is so important to remind employees or the learning curve and encourage them to keep going with a positive attitude after each mistake.
You have the power to set the tone of the experience. If you react abruptly to a mistake your employee will respond with more fear hesitation and presumably more missteps. However, if you smile and use calm encouraging words, they have a better chance to retain their focus and carry on.
That being said, in no way should you let mistakes go on unspoken. The only way to learn how to do something right is to point out when and why something else has gone wrong. As you may be seeing with your other staff, bad habits are hard to break, so nip things in the bud while maintaining a sweet-smelling approach.
DEATH OF THE 90-DAY REVIEW
Here lies the symbolic fork stuck in the 90-day review. As mentioned, some bad habits may get too far down the road to break, and 90 days can wastes too much time and money to determine if someone is the right fit. Instead, frequent check-ins should take place to gauge how well your new employee is adjusting and what new things need to be refreshed in terms of their focus.
Wise managers would take the extra step to hold weekly group meetings where employees can voice their questions, comments and concerns. Sure this will require some upfront costs but it could save you in long term headaches. It will be easier for your staff to stay engaged when you lend them your ears. The added benefit lies in your new employee who gets to learn and grow with the group.
New employees can be a breath of fresh air for you entire organization, if you let it. With the right procedures and perspective in place, not only can you incorporate a new member into your team, but you could enhance productivity and make some environmental changes that benefit you all. What other approaches can make a difference to a new employee?