How to Make New Employees Drink the Kool-Aid
Your people matter! In any business, who you hire matters just as much as what you do or how you happen to do it. If you are currently looking to bring on a new team member or you have recently made a hiring decision, then this article is for you.
From the moment your new team member starts their first day on the job, that employee is developing and gaining a sense of the office environment. Think of these first few hours or days as a first impression of the office and its culture.
In most situations, people don’t need but a few moments to form an opinion about someone else or the office environment. In most circumstances, these initial opinions can be surprisingly accurate. Regardless, these initial opinions can be difficult or impossible to correct and can define an entire relationship.
In psychological terms, the “halo” effect can be extremely beneficial and rewarding for employers. The “halo” effect is caused or created when a person has a positive initial impression of another individual or an organization and that initial positive impression acts as a lens for which future interactions are viewed. Basically, the “halo” effect can cause one positive interaction or impression to lead to another and then another.
While creating a positive work environment can have a positive impact on a new employee, a negative initial impression of an office environment can have the opposite effect where future interactions are viewed negatively. As such, it is extremely important to invest the time and energy of ensuring that your new employee’s first few days at the law firm are planned carefully. Should you fail to send the right message, your new employee may become your new worst enemy.
In the interest of ensuring that your new hire is engaged effectively, I have listed some ideas for encouraging a positive first few days on the job:
Food and Fellowship
Nothing says “we are a team” better than breaking bread and getting the team together outside of the office for a paid lunch. It is our standing office policy that the entire office goes for lunch each and every time we hire a new team member. This allows the new employee to get to know everyone in a relaxed and cordial office get-together.
The lunch does not have to be fancy or expensive. Pick a restaurant that best represents who you and your team are. Sharing a lunch break and a meal is a great way to get everyone acquainted, and it beats having to walk the new employee from office to office performing uncomfortable introductions.
Don’t worry about the employment handbook and the tax documents yet; break some bread and let your amazing team bring the newbie into the fold.
Create Time to Train the New Employee
Regardless of how busy you are, you cannot afford to hire a new employee and expect them to know what to do or how to do it the way you need it done. Your new employee wants to be helpful and productive as much as you need them to become helpful and productive. To ensure that your new hire is afforded the opportunity to succeed, be sure to schedule uninterrupted training time so that they may begin to understand what is needed.
Carve out as much or as little time as is needed to ensure that your new hire gets a true sense of what the job entails. Moreover, do not try to force all the training into one day. Understand that your new employee is an investment, and it is worth your time and energy to spread the training over several days or weeks.
You should not and cannot expect your new team member to understand and appreciate every aspect of their new position in the first week. As such, it is important to set goals and expectations for the employee so that they feel that they have been set up for success in their new position. Give your new team member an idea of what they will be doing in 30 to 45 days’ time. Spend time explain how you and all the other team members are available to help them accomplish the job of becoming familiar with their new position.
Give Them Work
While you shouldn’t expect too much from your new team member in their first few days, it is important that he or she is given the opportunity to be valuable as soon as possible. No employee wants to enter a new position and feel hopeless and helpless for an hour, let alone a few days.
Therefore, allow your new employee to contribute in helpful and meaningful ways by inviting them into the decision-making process and soliciting their advice on issues that are pending. The faster you are able to make the new team member feel valued and at home, the faster the team member will become a valuable asset to your law firm.
This advice may seem burdensome to your limited time and availability; however, you will not regret investing time and energy into your people. Creating positive relationships with your team members is proven to increase retention and productivity. These simple tips can go a long way toward creating a positive initial impression within your practice for new team members.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h