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How to Handle the New Kid (being one and working with one)

No one, let me repeat, no one, likes to be the new kid at the office no matter how old they are and on the other hand the existing regime is hesitate to the new person too. This has gone on since our days of junior high, walking down the halls nervous and awkward hoping that we will fit in somewhere and make a new friend. More importantly that we will stand out for the right reasons or just fade in to the background (depending on our personality).

Interestingly enough both the new hire and the exisiting employees are reluctant for similar reasons:

  1. Training: learning new things is tough, you want to be fast and efficient and show what you know already. Training new people takes away from your daily work and we already have acknowledged that we are all working harder and with less on most days so this can feel like a burden, especially without a strong plan in place.
  2.  Where do you fit: Knowing your place and the reality of your place. Hopefully this was clearly defined during the interview AND orientation process then reiterated in your team meeting both for the new person as well as the team. What a relief it is when there isn’t the tension of wondering if you will step on someones toes or understanding why you are no longer working on a particular project by yourself.
  3. Remove your prejudgments for the first month. This goes for both sides. Don’t worry about what someone looks like. Dress to impress but don’t over do it. Be sure to be a strong listener and don’t make assumptions. Give others and yourself the opportunity to learn about one another, don’t be too closed off and don’t share too much (have balance).

Employee Tips: Know that you have the ability to increase your success by working hard and not acting like a know it all. Even if you have the answer or the best solution in your mind, take time to discover why the company you are working for isn’t doing it that way and ask good questions, beyond “Why?”. Understand that not all companies are as well equipped or prepared to train and orientate you as they should be or your last company was. This may not be a reflection of how they operate as a business, it may just be a reaction to the speed in which they needed you or based on the needs of the business. Try to be patient and acclimate as best as possible.

Employer Tips: At minimum you must be prepared even if you don’t have the entire first 2-3 weeks planned out. Have an orientation packet complete with an agenda, handbook, training tools, org chart, phone/email list and job description. Have their desk ready with any items that they might need. Pair them with a work partner or office mentor beyond their trainer so that they have 2 people to go to besides you. Try not to run any incentive contests within the person first 3 weeks. Meet with them at the end of each day for the first week to 2 weeks and at the end of each week for their first 4-5 weeks giving feedback, asking questions and looking for new training opportunities.

Co-workers: This is a whole other section. Bottom line, don’t show off or push the work you don’t want to do on the new person. Act as a guide and an equal. Inquire about the persons background and learn from them. They were hired for a reason. Remeber all that complaining you were doing about the overload of work, assume they are there to ease some of the work load.

More to come on training and orientation but hopefully this will serve as a guide.

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