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Remember why you hired this person

Handling your new employee

graphic
Ann Humphries

Second installment of a two-part series. Last week: Being new from the position of the new employee. This week: What the employer should keep in mind as the newcomer starts work.

(CNN) -- "The notion of talent."

That's the first thing ETICON's Ann Humphries said when we asked her what an employer might forget when watching a new employee start work.

The issue, as you'll remember from last week's Corporate Class, is the kind of post-layoff newness so many careerists are experiencing these days as they take work to replace the jobs they lost. For the employee, it means being new again -- and that dumb feeling of not knowing your way around a new shop and job.

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CNN: But it can be tricky for the hiring folks, too, the ones who do know their way around the shop but don't know the new worker. So we asked Humphries what both bosses and co-workers should keep in mind about newcomers to a company. She followed right up on that "notion of talent."

Ann Humphries: This is not what bosses do well. They lose track of that notion of talent that attracted them to a new hire in the first place. Too many employers' interest isn't in sheltering or teaching their new talent to make them of maximum value to the operation, but in the old "Get 'em in there, let's get production up" thing.

Instead, it would be smart to debrief the incoming employee. Find out just what that person is bringing to the company. Walk as you go. Show your new employee your facility while picking his or her brain for the smarts coming into your business.

And consider this: The new person you're walking around the place might just someday be your boss. It happens a lot these days. And you want to get your new talent -- you hired this person for talent -- up and operating well, not just making stabs in the dark about how to do the job.

Train. Don't give your people an inferior platform on which to perform. Train. Budget for it. Hire people to do it. Make time for it. You cannot skimp on training. If you do, it will backfire on you. Every time.

And there's nothing wrong with going to a little trouble to be nice to the incoming employee.

Train. Don't give your people an inferior platform on which to perform. Train. Budget for it. Hire people to do it. Make time for it. You cannot skimp on training. If you do, it will backfire on you. Every time.

•   Consider a welcome sign on his or her cubicle.

•   How about a special parking pass for the first couple of weeks? Something close to the building to make it easier to unload various things the new worker will be bringing to the new workspace.

•   And don't wing the announcement to the group about the newcomer. think about it ahead. "Please welcome Julius Caesar to our company. Julius comes to us from Rome. He collects knives." Be good at introducing this person, ready with some details about him or her.

•   And use this as an opportunity to praise your existing staffers: "Julius, this is Brutus. He's worked here for four years and knows the place so well that I wouldn't turn my back on him for a minute."

•   Maybe set up a lunch meeting to introduce the newcomer to the others. Your message is, "This new person is good and can help us get production up and share the load." This helps the standing staff accept the new arrival. The opposite -- a polarization effect -- is purely the result of bad management.

•   Rather than making the new man or woman pay his or her dues, issue a choice assignment early on, to help your newcomer learn the ropes -- and to engender some quick loyalty.

•   Eliminate dull orientation sessions. Why render your new employee comatose?

Now, if you're a co-worker of the new employee, there are a few things for you to consider, too.

•   Get up, walk over, say something engaging to the new employee. If he or she has moved from another city, how about asking about family, schools, any need for guidance on day care? Does your new colleague like opera? Little League? Thai food? Ask, find out, offer suggestions. Don't just duck your head and keep working.

  WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU?
We're talking new employees, but you may have other issues on your mind. Drop us a line, we might be able to use your idea for a Corporate Class feature. Just click here for our handy submission form.
 

•   Find your new co-worker a company directory. The faster you get this colleague up to speed, the sooner she or he will be helpful to you in your own job. Contract people, in particularly, need a directory -- they don't have the years of experience at this shop you have, they don't know who's who.

•   Don't say, "I can't believe you came to work here." Don't run down the place to the newcomer.

•   Don't call a person from Texas "Tex." Don't call a person from New York "Yankee." Don't call that recent university grad who's following his team "Auburn Tiger Guy."

•   Don't retreat into your clique. You hear things like, "I don't have time for any new friends." That cuts deep when someone new hears it. It's a door slamming in her or his face. Try to remain open. Even if your life is full, try.

Finally, for both bosses and co-workers: Ask for the newcomer's opinions on things. "How did orientation go? You passed out in the fourth hour? You're ready to quit right now?" -- good thing to find out.

Without expecting the new arrival to have assimilated everything immediately, try to include him or her in company discussions. Look for what he brings to the job, what she knows from prior work -- this is, after all, why you made the hire. Remember?

Coming: A two-part Corporate Class on business conversations. Opening lines (the kind nobody will laugh at behind the bar). Good responses. Keeping the banter going. Holding up your end of a conversation with strangers.

South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges has named Ann Humphries, founder and president of ETICON Inc., one of seven South Carolina Women of Achievement. Humphries, who's based in Columbia, is a Certified Professional Consultant to Management. Her clients have included several Fortune 500 companies. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Money, and on CNN, CBS and Lifetime TV. You can contact her at www.eticon.com.

[watercooler]



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