Getting Past the Fear of First Days
Hi, my name is Alyssa, and I’m the brand-new copywriter here at RecogNation. In light of Allison’s goodbye post earlier this year, I thought it was appropriate to write an introduction post.
On paper, I’m a Millennial, but I feel older at heart. I don’t understand technology as well as I should, and I feel like I’ve already “found myself.”
I just got married to the love of my life. I play softball for a rec league team. I’m a homebody who loves to travel. I love being with my friends and family. I love to laugh. I’m a fan of the Penn State Nittany Lions. I played the Oboe in middle and high school (#funfact).
And, I’m passionate about employee engagement.
Are you thinking I said that last one because it’s what RecogNation does? . . . Well, think again.
I’ve been blessed to work at a couple different organizations that were great at employee engagement. They took the time to appreciate my efforts and help me grow in my positions. They celebrated my birthdays and acknowledged my work anniversaries. They cheered with me on good days and encouraged me on bad days.
So, when Baudville Brands—RecogNation’s “parent” company—was hiring a copywriter, I jumped at the chance. And I’m so excited to be here.
I’m excited to continue the legacy of great recognition content. I’m excited to continue to give you the resources you need to engage and empower your employees. I’m excited to see the results of your recognition programs, cheering you on and encouraging you along the way.
But, now that we’ve gotten my introduction out of the way, I’d like to share some thoughts and feelings associated with my first days and weeks at a new job—thoughts and feelings that your new employees (most likely) also have.
The Desire to Prove Ourselves
I’m a perfectionist at heart, and I so badly want to get things right the first time. This means it can be hard when I receive negative feedback on a piece of work that I’ve written or correction when it comes to a project. But, I know the feedback is being given to help me. I’ve learned to hold my work loosely, knowing that feedback and reworking is a necessary part of the process. It’s just hard to remember sometimes.
When you’re onboarding an employee, remember that they just want to fit in, do the work well, and make management happy. In return, you should:
- Give them constructive criticism, instead of just criticism. Always find the good in their work before you note the bad. Recognize the work that they’ve done and the effort they’re putting into each project.
- Have frequent check-ins to make sure they’re supported in their new role. Do they have all the resources they need to do their job well? Do they know how to find documents on the server? It can be hard when a new employee feels like they’re asking too many questions, so offer the answers before they even ask.
- Teach them the ins and outs of your company culture. Even if new employees have the skills and experience to do the job, you still need to spend time teaching them how to do things at your organization. Chances are, things will be different than at their previous employer.
The Desire to Belong
This is simple psychology. Through compensation and benefits, an employee’s basic needs are met. But, once you get past that, they’re looking to attain higher level needs, the first of which is belonging.
Honestly, the first few weeks of a new job can be quite lonely. And it stinks. But here are a few things you can do to make them feel like they belong from the get-go (things RecogNation did for me!):
- Be welcoming. This seems obvious, but I’m not just talking about saying “Hey! Welcome to the team!” I’m talking about stopping over to their desk to say hi and check in with them . . . several days in a row. Or, when you walk into meetings, instead of starting a conversation with the rest of your team, engage in a conversation with the new employee. Those first few minutes of a meeting can be downright scary (what will we talk about!?) for a new employee.
- Share about the culture. Each employee will have a unique viewpoint of the company culture. Talk about what your first days were like and what you’ve learned since. It’s more helpful than you know for new employees to hear different viewpoints of what it’s like to work with your company.
- Take them out to lunch. I went out several days, and weeks, in a row with various people around the company. It was great to engage with them outside of work and talk about things that weren’t work-related. It made me feel like I was developing a friendship with them rather than just a work relationship. And that goes along way.
Your Takeaway: Be Patient
It takes 18-22 months for non-management employees to reach full productivity (and it can be even longer for executive level employees, by the way).
While those numbers first seemed outrageous to me, I now understand. It’s difficult to come into a new workplace and learn the nuances of its culture. Work relationships need to be developed, trust needs to be earned, and mistakes need to be made. It’s part of the learning process, and how your new employee will develop in their new position.
So, be patient with them. Give them clear, understandable, and executable 90-day goals. Your prep will go a long way in helping them acclimate and feel like a successful contributor to your business.
And, as you continue to engage them, they’ll fall in love with their job, act as leaders, inspire others to excel, and achieve the highest levels of success.
P.S. Onboaring a new employee? Need help in the area of recognition? Contact RecogNation by calling 888.919.7600, or click here. These people really know their stuff. I promise.