Workplace Rights

Weekly (3/3/14)

Topic of the Week  End of the Beginning--Helping New Employees Fit Into Your Company

· DO create a first 90 days checklist.
· DO align individual goals with corporate strategy.
· DO build a strong foundation through mentoring.
· DON'T let your message die.

It's easy for people who've been working in a company for a while to forget about the challenges of coming in as a new employee. The combination of written rules and policies, combined with all the unwritten ones, can be daunting to absorb. Which reminds me of when high school students attending a prom in Oklahoma watched as a repo man drove away in the limousine they'd rented. One student even thought it was being carjacked. Turns out there had been financial problems between the limo company and the bank that had been resolved days before. The only problem? No one told the repo man.

According to my email, many companies are like this. There are so many communication breakdowns that new employees are ready to be repossessed. The only problem is that it often isn't their fault, it's their company's fault for not giving them the tools to be successful. I've listed three Do's and one Don't for helping new employees fit into your company. For more, check out "Human Resources Kit for Dummies" by Max Messmer (Wiley, 2007).

DO create a first 90 days checklist. Most companies spend time doing an orientation, that's a good thing, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. Employees need a checklist outlining the expectations that the company has for them for the first three months on the job. Most companies leave this up to guesswork. All the osmosis in the world won't outline the company's expectations and provide a checklist to be sure they're on track.

DO align individual goals with corporate strategy. Another big breakdown is that the employee is either given a very specific outline of the corporate goals, or the employee is given a specific job description outlining what is expected of them. But they are seldom given both. It is only when an employee gets both the big picture, and the specific day-to-day expectations, that they can truly reach their potential.

DO build a strong foundation through mentoring. I'm a big fan of giving employees a person that they can turn to when they have questions or concerns about work. I know what you're thinking, that's the job of their boss. Yes, and no, but mostly no. Most employees have a series of questions that they would never ask their boss, because they don't want to look stupid: like who are the most influential people on the team, where are places that you can cut corners and yes, how do you deal with the boss when they're in a bad mood. So the questions don't get asked and as a result the employee often screws up.

DON'T let your message die. It is important to not assume that all is well once the initial training is completed. There are always going to be questions. That's why it's important to see the orientation as an ongoing process.

Follow these tips and you're new employees won't be ready for the repo man, they'll be valuable contributors right from day one.

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

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