Do You Remember What It Was Like To Be New?
We were all new at some point. We can be new in our job… perhaps getting a promotion or hired in at a level that is new to us, as well as simply working in a new environment. Both of these bring challenges, and as Leaders our actions can have a major impact on the kind of relationships our new hires develop at work, as well as how they feel about us and their new job… which in turn determines their level of engagement.
What I’m talking about goes much deeper than onboarding… our happiness, satisfaction, and level of engagement at work is directly connected to our relationship with the person to whom we report.
Different organizations have different onboarding procedures, which can certainly enable our new hires to want to be helpful, and feel as if they are welcome and part of the team. And it’s you; their team Leader, working with them daily (or as often as you possibly can) that really allows them to help the team achieve its goals.
And if we stay in the same organization for a while, we can easily forget what it’s like to be new. It’s all too easy to become a bit arrogant about what people should know, what basic expectations should be understood and automatically met, what rules and roles are universal as opposed to unique to our organization, and what behavior and communications styles are expected and acceptable.
If we as Leaders fail to remember what it was like to be new the damage can be irreparable.
We can easily alienate our new hires by failing to show empathy. Starting a new job can be stressful enough without out boss expecting us to know and understand all of the in’s and out’s of our new workplace in the first few days/weeks.
We can make it easy for them to feel overwhelmed, which will certainly impact the quality of their work, as well as their level of commitment to the team goals.
Our demands and expectations can encourage them to think that perhaps this was a mistake… maybe they should not have accepted our offer? This is tough to fix once the damage is done.
Or minimally, we can fail to make this transition period as short and as pleasant as it can be.
So how can we remember what it was like to be new?
And in what ways can we help our new hires adapt to their new role and new environment?
To remember what it’s like to be new we can:
Spend some time with kids. Kids are constantly learning and exploring the world, and spending time watching and interacting with them can help keep us grounded. Kids constantly remind us of what it’s like to be new at something.
If we keep our long-term goals in mind, seeing them… living them every day, we will be much more likely to remember what it’s like to be new. Keeping our long-term goals active helps us asking “what if”? And “why not”? These are the questions we asked when we were new…
Work with your new hires at every opportunity. You have a vast ocean of knowledge and experience compared to the thimble of knowledge your new hire has. Only through working with them can we impart that knowledge to our new hires. Every day, when we work alongside our new hires, with their fresh eyes, they ask us questions about things that we have come to think are obvious….
At times it can take A LOT of patience, and the rewards are well worth the effort. You will be building relationships that create engagement, loyalty, and trust.
To help our new hires adapt we can:
Be mindful of not doing things the easy way… not taking shortcuts. As Leaders we should always do things the right way… people will almost always find their own short cuts, so if they see us, their Leaders, taking short cuts they will find a shortcut from that point, probably leading to poor quality work. We will have set them up for failure.
Make sure that your new hire really understands your commitment to helping them achieve their goals. This will come from meeting with them, working with them, and developing an honest, trusting relationship with them.
Make a quick list of all of the mistakes you have made. For me, there is no way this is a quick list… Remembering and sharing all of my mistakes with my team members helps keep me from taking my knowledge and experience for granted, and it puts my new hires much more at ease. They can avoid making a few of my mistakes, and they seem to have an easier time approaching me with questions.
Make it clear that you expect mistakes. If we are not making mistakes we are not trying hard enough to achieve great. Just make sure I hear about it from you first!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to remember what it’s like to be new, as well as ideas about how to help our new hires adapt to their new environment.