I just read a really interesting blog post recently: 5 Conversations You Must Have with A New Boss. The post provides great information for new employees, but if you are a supervisor or responsible for on-boarding new employees, the post also makes a great read. This topic reminded me of the basics people need when they start a new job. It’s written for the new employee, but I’d like to consider the post from a manager’s and trainer’s point of view. Let’s face it—as a manager or learning professional, part of the responsibility for the success of a new employee is in your hands.
The blog first recommends that the new employee ask why me? Why did you hire me? What value did you see in me over the other candidates? As a boss and a learning professional, this reminds me that people want and need validation. They like to know what they contribute to a company. As a manager, it’s wise to comment on and reinforce the values and traits that you liked in the employee.
The next suggested conversation starts with the question “How can I learn?” Remember back to some of your very first jobs. Who taught you the ropes? Did you have a supervisor spend one-on-one time with you? Were you given a manual to read? Were you required to take a class? Were you thrown into the deep end and told to sink or swim? Think through what a new employee must know to be successful and make a plan for teaching them. Don’t just assume that they will learn by watching others or that somehow they will stumble through. Put a training plan in place. Do pretesting to find out what they know right now. Provide training that fills in whatever gaps you find. It goes without saying that measurement should always be part of training. How will you know if your new employee has learned the ropes if you don’t measure?
The blog then suggests asking what is the plan? Presumably you hired an employee for a reason. Do they know what that reason is? Do they know the role you expect them to play? Clearly lay out goals and objectives for them to achieve. Give the new employee something to aim for and make clear what your expectations are. Expectations, too, are often tied to training. If you have a call center and you expect an employee to process 20 calls per hour, that is crucial information an employee needs to know. Be clear on the level of performance you expect. If you haven’t done so already, write down the expectations so all employees, new and senior, understand what is required from them to do well on the job.
Training and Feedback Are Crucial
The next conversation focuses on feedback. Employees want to know how they are doing. When things are going well, tell them! Just as importantly, when things are going poorly, let the employee know. But how do you know if things are going well or poorly? You can observe them as they work. You can get reports from coworkers or other supervisors. But if you want hard data, this goes back to the training plan we talked about earlier. With pretesting of employees you set a baseline measure that should tell you where they have skill or knowledge gaps. You can use training sessions to bridge those gaps. Post-testing should help you see their progress. If there are still areas the employee needs to work on, tell them what is going wrong and offer suggestions and help for improvement. Provide feedback early and often and you’ll prevent many misunderstandings farther down the line.
The final conversation is really about having each other’s backs. Your employees want to know that you’ll back them up. In turn, you should feel the same way about your employees. Will they support your decisions? Will they make you look good? Will they try their best so the team will succeed as a whole?
All of these are good conversations to have and offer a starting point for a solid on-boarding and training plan for new employees. Don’t wait for your new hires to come to you with these questions. Start these conversations yourself.
Do you agree that these are the conversations every new employee should have? Are there others that you would recommend? How can discussions like this provide a springboard for training? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to know your thoughts.
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