If you’ve ever been the new kid in school, you know how nerve wracking it can be to walk into a place where you don’t know anyone, where to find anything, or how well you will fit in. A new employee can feel those same fears when they walk into their job for the first time.
Even for a grown-up, little things like not knowing where the copy machine is, how to schedule meetings, or who they can sit with at lunch can send a person right back to those scary school days. And what’s worse, not knowing what they need to know can make it challenging for them to build important relationships and get work done.
As a manager, you want to do everything you can to help your new team member feel welcome, get acclimated, and start succeeding from their first day. Here are seven ways to get them off to a great start:
1. Welcome them to the team
One of the biggest worries people have about being the new kid on the block is not knowing anyone and breaking the ice with new team members. Send an email announcement to the team before they arrive, including what the new employee will be doing and encourage team to introduce themselves. Plan a welcome lunch for their first day and ask everyone to attend. On the new team member’s first day, send a welcome email and remind everyone about the welcome aboard lunch. This is a great way to break the ice without putting anyone under pressure.
2. Have their workspace ready
Being new is uncomfortable enough for a person without also feeling like they don’t belong anywhere. You also want to make a strong first impression as their manager, so don’t let them walk in on you scrambling to find them a desk. Reach out to the person who assigns work stations and arrange their desk, chair, phone, and a basic set of supplies to get them started. If your office work stations also sport name plates, have it ready and mounted – your new employee will feel like they belong from the moment they arrive.
3. Give them the lay of the land
No one wants to be late for their very first staff meeting because they got lost looking for the restroom or coming back from lunch. Give your newbie a tour of the workplace, hitting all of the hot spots including the break room, cafeteria, conference rooms, etc. Point out the quirks of the elevators and the staircase shortcuts, to help the newbie avoid getting stuck or lost.
4. Create a list of things to know
It’s easy to forget what its like to be new and not know all of the little things that are second nature to you and the rest of the team. Create a list of informal “nice to know” items that will serve as the new employee’s survival kit. Include simple but important information like:
- Important upcoming dates or company events
- Links, documents, and other resources they need to regularly use or quickly access
- Setup processes for things like timesheet reporting and online training
- The calendar of regular team meetings, conference calls, or town halls they are expected to attend – especially if they need to speak or present
- The names, titles and contact information of the colleagues they will work or meet with regularly
5. Make sure their tech is ready
When you know officially that you have a new person joining your team, get all of their tech access – email address, phone numbers, etc. – set up before they start. If there are some things that can’t be setup before their first day, like their ID badge, know in advance what the steps are for completing that process. Place requests for hardware and devices like laptops, phones, and printers as far in advance as possible. The more you can have in place on day one, the less time your new team member will spend feeling unproductive.
6. Start them with easy win projects
You are probably anxious for your newbie to jump into their first project right away. But there is a lot to learn to make sure they succeed. Starting them with a couple of small tasks that can be completed quickly and successfully will give them a chance to connect with their new colleagues, ask questions, and gain the confidence that will lead them nicely into their first major project.
7. Connect them with a great mentor
After you have welcomed your new team member, you want to make sure they feel well supported during their early time in their role. Connect them with a person that will be a good guide, example, and mentor. Encourage the mentor to make themselves available and share best practices; and encourage the new team member to reach out to their mentor when they have questions, but to also schedule time with them – and you – to ask questions, make suggestions, or talk about concerns.
Finally, make sure YOU are there to do all of the things listed above. As a leader your schedule is undoubtedly busy, but not being there to welcome your new employee sends a message that their arrival is not important. Every new team member wants to feel that they are there to make things better, and no one can communicate that message better than you.