A new employee’s first days on the job can be a dizzying time.
There are names to remember, new tasks to master. And let’s not forget the all-important directions to the nearest restrooms, and even how to get back to the parking lot!
It’s all the sort of stuff veteran employees take for granted.
Consider this: Several studies show that getting comfortable at work early in the game – the first 90 days of employment – is one of the main contributors to eventual long-term success for a new employee.
Managers and supervisors can get newbies comfortable more quickly, and help them become more successful, by paying special attention to three key steps for success in an employee’s first 90 days.
1. Setting clear performance standards
Most of us believe that employees know what’s what when it comes to expected performance. But a new employee can be anxious and confused about that.
Try sitting down with the employee and explaining, in simple language, what your standards and expectations are. For example: “If you accomplish this in the given time frame, you’ll be considered successful.”
Often, as the employee gains knowledge and experience, those expectations will change, but don’t worry too much about covering the distant future.
Explain the immediate expectations. When the time comes to raise the bar on performance or productivity, you can have another conversation.
The point is to set up a reachable and clear target for the employee.
Surprisingly, too many companies miss this step, often because of good, but misguided, intentions:
- They want to show the employee the company isn’t rigid, that “oh, we’ll get that figured out sometime.” The result is uncertainty for an already anxious person.
- They don’t want to put pressure on the employee. In fact, that’s exactly what they end up doing, because the employee feels the pressure of never knowing what’s considered successful and what isn’t.
2. Defining who does what
How thoroughly you cover this aspect of employment may depend on the size of your organization. But the basics stay the same no matter the size of the employer.
You’ll want to make sure the employee knows who your boss is and understands the organizational chart of the groups you work in and with.
Giving new employees a feel about the organization will make later face-to-face meetings with the people on the chart more meaningful.
3. Defining a course of training
Ask yourself: Are you more comfortable knowing what’s coming, or would you rather not know?
About 90% of us want to know what’s coming. We don’t like dealing with uncertainty.
So it is with most new employees. And in this case, what they want to know is how you’re going to get them ready to do the job.
Even if you don’t have a formal training plan, it’s a good idea to let new employees know how you plan to get them up to speed. Something as simple as “The first couple of weeks you’ll be working with Bill on the Ajax project.”
You can flesh that out as you see fit – including technical training or other approaches, if appropriate.
Just try to give the new employee the feeling that he or she won’t be pushed out to sea alone or without help or guidance.