Stranger Danger: How to Keep a New Hire from Becoming an Unfamiliar Face
By: Suzanne Ostrander
-Kennesaw, GA You feel like you’ve missed the memo, but unfortunately there was no memo to begin with. In fact, that’s kind of the problem.
It all started two weeks ago on a Monday morning. You thought the unfamiliar face who showed up at your meeting might have been an auditor. You give a friendly smile to the same gentleman as you pass him by in the break room the next morning, because hey- you always want your visitors to feel welcome! When returning from lunch on Wednesday afternoon, you are somewhat surprised to still see him roaming the halls carrying what seems to be an important stack of papers and an even greater sense of urgency. Once again, smiles are exchanged by both parties, as you secretly think to yourself “this guy must be a big deal”! Thursday rolls by uneventfully and the next thing you know it’s quitting time on Friday and you’re the last one to leave the office.
Or so you thought….
Like an eerie movie, you notice an unfamiliar, dark sedan next to yours in the parking lot. Who else is here? Curiously, you begin walking up and down the halls. Nothing seems out of place, until you get to the last cubicle on the left. That’s when you see it. Apparently, the friendly yet relatively ambiguous man who you took to be an auditor, is now sipping on the company coffee in his own office.
He is neither an auditor, nor is he here to clean the toilets. Congratulations, he is your new colleague.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation in your own office? The above example was written from the perspective of a clueless employee, but I can only imagine what it would be like for the new hire himself. Starting up a new job can be scary enough. It’s even worse when you’re “thrown to the wolves” and surrounded by nothing other than unidentified faces.
A successful company is not just about training employees to execute tasks. While the notion of productivity is important, we can only go so far in our career endeavors without an underlying network of strong relationships established by kindness and strengthened through trust.
Many of these relationships begin on your first day at the company. It rests on the shoulders of management to properly introduce any new employee in his group, albeit full-time, part-time, temporary, hourly, or contractor. Of course, managers might not always be able to identify every vendor, prospective client, or job candidate who walks into the front door. If they have an email address, however, the “worker bees” need to know who they are.
Announcing a new hire can be easily achieved via a company memo (you know…the ones you always miss?) or a casual, yet informative quick announcement in an office-wide meeting.
Timing is essential, though. Experts say that this should probably be done on the first day. Therefore, if a manager does not get an opportunity to gather everybody for an announcement on a new hire’s first day, he should take five minutes to send out an email to introduce the newest member of the group and make him or her feel welcome.
Earlier, I mentioned the aspect of trust to be the single, most unifying force in all relationships. How can this failure to welcome a new employee damage both the new hire’s sense of trust for the company, as well as the rest of the employees’ trust for the company?
There are many ways, really. To begin with though, the new employee may begin to question how much faith the company has invested in him or her. Perhaps it could make the new team member think that, despite being hired, management may not be expecting them to make it very long.
Let’s flip the coin, and view the scenario once again from the perspective of the confused and uninformed employees. At first, many employee’s may simply assume they “missed the boat” (a return to the repeated”missed memo” theme). Maybe they were on the phone with a client or daydreaming in a staff meeting. Who knows, maybe they just had to go to the bathroom!!! Yet, I imagine that once this event continues to occur with new people throughout the office, the other employees will start to notice management’s failure to explain who the man in the suit is sitting next to them. Other employees may also begin to wonder how much faith management has in the newest addition. They may even wonder if they were excluded from the announcement, because their position was perceived as irrelevant to the new hire’s. Nevertheless, in all scenarios, management’s failure to introduce their new hire has likely created a stir, not to mention confusion among the rest of the workers.
The solution? Always welcome and properly introduce your new employees! No excuses. We never get a second chance to make a first impression, and new-hires who start out on the right foot are most likely to make long-term commitments to their companies!
As always, remember to encourage excellence with everybody you interact with! A friendly gesture or simple act of kindness can result in 20-years or more of employee loyalty!! Sounds like a fair exchange to me!
Click below for tips on introducing new-hires to the office culture: