Will Your New Hire Sink or Swim?

Don't Shortchange That Extra Guidance in the Beginning

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McKenzie Koch McKenzie Koch
While I'm all for diving headfirst into the pool, I'd at least like to know how deep it is before I do.

The same can be said for new employees. Whether they're arriving fresh out of school or as a seasoned veteran, nobody can score a perfect 10 without a few necessary bits of information about what they're getting themselves into.

As a recent college grad and a new employee, I began my new position in the midst of preparations for a big launch. I was immensely grateful to a staff member whose feedback to my questions was always timely, accurate and given with a smile (you know who you are!). Choosing to make your newbie feel at home is the best piece of advice that we've all heard before. Below are a few reminders on how to do so.

1. Prepare a "launch document." People like security. They don't like wondering if they're meeting expectations. Prepare an overview regarding the projects and tasks for which they will be responsible. It helps them prioritize and get a feel for their new position -- and it strips them of an excuse if they fail to make a deadline.

A launch document can also give you insight to their work ethic. Did they set off on a mission to learn the task processes? If so, you probably made a good choice in your hiring.

2. Provide resources for information. Give your new hire a list of resources to find information. Folders on company drives, frequently used websites, other staff members with exceptional knowledge -- the list is endless. Giving newbies such lists gives them the confidence to ask questions of the right people and takes the burden off of you. If they know where to find the information, there's no need to ask you.

3. Do a full tour, complete with introductions. Would you walk up to a random stranger and ask them for a favor? I might, but most people wouldn't. Same goes for the workplace. Make sure to tour your new hire around the office and introduce him or her to everyone -- it will allow the new hire to gain a sense of confidence and camaraderie more quickly.

4. Institute frequent status checks. The most important thing you can do for a new hire is to be available. Granted, your time is often limited. Be certain to schedule newbies some one-on-one time in which they can ask questions and receive your feedback. These meetings should be short -- 10 or 15 minutes at most, and decrease in frequency as your employee gets more comfortable.

I once had a reference tell a potential employer to "hire her quick, pay her well and treat her right, because I'm coming after her in two years." If you're hiring the best, this will be true across the board. First impressions will play a key role in your employees' attitudes and how long they stay with you. With the right beginning, they'll be diving in like Chen Ruolin in no time.

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