No matter how high their grade or how well they’re paid – new staff will always need managers’ support, guidance and facilitation into their new organisation, team and role. Here are five top tips to help you get it right.
1) Set the scene
If it’s a brand new role, it’s important for managers to position it clearly to the relevant teams in advance of their new colleague’s arrival. If they don’t really understand or appreciate the need, it will be all the more difficult for the new postholder to assimilate. And you may have to deal with some resentment and trodden-on toes among your existing staff who could feel threatened by their presence.
2) Build networks
Scheduling a programme of informal 1-1s with people from right across the business is a great way to get them started on learning how the place ticks, what the various teams do and how everything fits together. It helps them become known quickly, and kickstarts those personal networks essential for success.
Encourage the postholder in actively seeking out contacts, arranging and holding their own 1-1s and small team meetups too, to develop their personal brand and position in the organisation.
Just be aware that if there is no formal induction course, people may just tell them what it occurs to them to say at the time and the postholder may not know the right question to ask to get essential and timely information, which can lead to surprising gaps in knowledge. It’s best to assemble at least a rough outline of areas to cover, so they get the right details in more or less the right order.
A key reading list helps, too – website, publications, research, tools of the trade and so on, to get them on their feet. Keep an eye on the process to ensure it’s on the right track, and you’re not just doing a cheap and substandard job.
3) Quick wins
If you turn a big project over to a new person and then just leave them to sink or swim, there’s a danger they – and you – won’t necessarily realise they’re going under. Give them some small projects instead, and monitor closely to begin with, so they can gain confidence from quick wins, or you can identify fixable issues early on. Ensure regular and frequent checkins to ensure you’re all communicating well.
4) Feedback matters
Regular, timely and honest feedback is essential – everyone needs to ensure they’re getting it right from the start. Actively get team members’ feedback on their progress and performance, perhaps on a weekly basis, and ensure it’s given in turn to the postholder so they have a fair chance to adapt and evolve as needs be as they go.
Managers can sometimes shy away from difficult conversations, and if the first indication that all is not well doesn’t come until the three months review, or even at the end of probation, this will come as a shock, and that sudden vulnerability can be difficult to overcome. Ensure that the 3 months’ review happens at the correct time – late can be too late.
New skills take time to develop and colleagues must persevere too, if new staff are to merge into the team. Accept they may take time to come up to speed and encourage the team to think of the new person every single time an opportunity for a client meeting, visit or call comes up, and include them, and give out the message that everyone’s regular, open and timely feedback will enable them to become a valued member of the team.
Whatever happens, always support, feed back, coach and challenge your new team member again to new achievements.