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Getting to Know Your New Employees

Getting to Know Your New EmployeesAs a leader, having a good relationship with your team is a key to success. A way to start building this relationship is by getting to know and understand each individual team member — what they are like as professionals and what makes them tick as a person. This, of course, needs to be done without moving into inappropriate areas of their personal life.

Whether you’re a manager who just hired a new team member or new manager joining a team, you’re in a situation where you must get to know people. With all of the work already piling up, how can you possibly make time to get to know your employees, aside from sending them a long, intrusive survey?

First, don’t waste any time. Although it may seem awkward learning about people, imagine how awkward it is when you still have no idea about who they are after they’ve been working under you for a year. With that in mind, spread out the “getting to know you” questions to avoid bombarding a new employee.  This will also make it easier for you to remember the information. Finally, when a person tells you about themselves, always listen, show interest and understand what their saying. This will help you recall it later.

As a manager, you want to get to know your new employees on two different levels – professionally and, to a lesser degree, personally. Professionally, learn about a person’s strengths and weaknesses, their experiences, their goals and their work habits. It’s much easier to lead somebody when you know how they learn and organize themselves. Never pry into an employee’s personal information but if they offer it, understand what motivates them, as well as what they may be dealing with outside of the office.

So how do you go about gathering all of this information? Here are a few simple tips and strategies:

  • Ask other managers. Especially if you’re new or if your employee came from another department, one of your colleagues may be able to provide input. This isn’t limited internally, as you know from the hiring process, references can provide valuable insight.
  • Schedule one-on-ones. Regular meetings are an opportunity to ask what would make things more interesting for them and how things can improve around the office. Their responses will teach you some of their motivations, priorities, and values.
  • Work on a project. Rather than always being a “manager”, join a project and work with your team at the same level. They will become more comfortable with you and share more as a result.
  • Be open to conversation. An open door policy and a commitment to a few minutes of casual chit-chat each day can go a long way in getting to know somebody.
  • Some (most?) people dread them, but when time permits, the right setting with the right icebreaker can help you get to know somebody and be a phenomenal team builder.
  • Team socials. After work, get together for activities. It can be a pub night, exercise, or celebrate birthdays and achievements.
  • Bring treats. It is possible to buy love, at least when it’s with food. Bringing in baked goods or having a bowl of candy on your desk can start great conversation.
  • Work on conflicts together. Adversity and conflict resolution can strengthen a relationship. People often expose a different side of themselves when working through a tough situation.
  • Ask interesting questions. There are plenty of resources on the web with questions to ask to get to know somebody professionally, or quirky questions to see their softer side.

It would be unrealistic to expect an employee to open up right away, but with some time, effort, and a smile, it won’t be long before you know more about an employee than just what’s on their resume. What steps have you taken to get to know a new employee?

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3 Creative Ways New Employees Can Learn the Real Facts about Their Office

3 Creative Ways New Employees Can Learn the Real Facts about Their OfficeEvery great office has onboarding. Usually a long, drawn-out system of training modules where a new hire goes through the standard health & safety spiel, learns your company’s policies, and gets accustomed to the systems and processes of their role. Important? Yes. Exciting? Maybe. Social? Not at all.

Very often, new employees will go through an onboarding process and understand everything about how to do their job, but know very little about how to fit in with the culture and get along in the office. Given how so many people use their happiness in the office as a deciding factor for staying at a job, these points should not be neglected. What about the simple quirks of the office, like whose desk often has Timbits, which elevator is the slowest, or what restaurant makes the meanest burger? Assuming insights like these are not covered in your training deck, here are some creative ways you can help new employees learn the real facts about their office.

Spice Up the Tour

When an employee comes into the office for the first time, somebody in Human Resources, or maybe their manager, gives them a quick tour. They learn key locations of the bathrooms, copiers, maybe the breakroom, and any important desks they may need to visit. The tour tends to stop there. Instead, ask a teammate (or a few teammates) to give the tour. They will cover the bases, but also go onto provide extra tips such as what not to touch in the fridge, who’s desk to avoid first thing in the morning, and where it’s safest to make a private phone call. If new hires and tours are frequent, consider a fun, graphical map that outlines the office and some fun points (ex. This window will give you the best view of the city).

Help Them Meet AND Remember People

Remembering names and faces is challenging for many people on a good day. That adds more pressure on the first day (or week) in a new office. Unless your new employee has an amazing photographic memory, the odds of them remembering everybody’s name, face and role are slim to none. They have enough to learn, so why not help them out? For example, split up the roles in their onboarding.  Ask different people to perform specific training, another to give the tour, another to be a mentor, and somebody else can take them for lunch. Meeting people throughout the day rather than all at once, first thing in the morning, makes it much easier to remember them. Finally, consider a fun alternative. This article from FastCompany suggests giving them a personal collage of immediate staff, including photos and information about them such as hobbies and favourite sayings.

Implement New Hire Team Building Traditions

Culture is an extremely important element to the office. No matter how many slides you use to try to explain it, a new hire will never truly understand it until they’re immersed in it by getting to know the team. Get the newest team member involved in the culture as quickly as possible. This could be anything from a team lunch to team building sessions to go-kart races — as long as it fits with your culture. Understandably, you can’t stop everything as soon as somebody new comes into the office, but you can set yourself standards such as “The Friday after a new person comes in we will do this…” or “Every two weeks, this simple 5-minute team building activity happens.”

It’s every manager’s dream to have all of their new hires fit into the team as quickly as possible, so the team can perform to its maximum potential. To achieve this, we need to realize that basic training is not going to suffice. Do you have any creative ways you immerse new hires into your culture?

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What People Really Want from Onboarding

A great onboarding process can be the key to keeping top talent and molding new employees into long-term veterans of your company.  Have you put much thought into really understanding what new hires want from their onboarding and how you can make it a better experience? This infographic from BambooHR runs through the dos and don’ts of an fantastic onboarding experience.

Infographic: What people really want from onboarding.