First Day (or Week) Info?

I have the fortunate opportunity to bring someone new on to my team here in the next month - she’s relatively new, just under three years since she graduated, to give you an idea of her experience level.

I’m currently working on a training and professional development plan for her first six months aimed more at getting her acquainted with the technical work we do, as well as some of the work processes we utilize.

What topics / things have you found yourself wanting to know early on in starting a job at a new company? Or perhaps even starting a new position within the same company? I can imagine with the current pandemic, starting a new job is even more stressful than it normally would be, so I’m trying to have a (relatively) good plan in place to help ensure her transition is as smooth as it can be.

Thanks in advance for any of your feedback!

Basic office protocols! Such a basic thing that new employees often get stuck spending too much time figuring out on their own or tracking people down to ask.

  • Who to talk to and how to prepare purchase requests and similar documents

  • Where to get or who they need to talk to about getting office supplies (stationery and such) when needed

  • Chain of command for other collaborating teams in the company (if any)

  • Basically anything that requires a specific form submitted to a specific person to get something done…explain that right off the bat.

Getting these little distractions out of the way makes the real important development goals you have a lot easier since they aren’t taking up any real estate in the person’s head.

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My first “first” day was 41 years ago. The one thing I remember that I really, really appreciated was the company told all the new hires that came in that day, and there were many, we could go to the cashier and get an advance on our first paycheck! At that point the wife and I were living off credit cards, so that was the best news they could possibly give me.

You probably have the work/technical stuff pretty much nailed down. So, put yourself in her shoes, and think what might buy megatons of goodwill.

It did me. But, she may not have an immediate need like that.

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On another “first” day, I was meeting the operations team one-by-one on a schedule for a process unit in a new plant for me. After talking business, the old, battle-scarred, “school of hard knocks” Area Superintendent got very serious, looked me straight in the eye, and told me, “Listen up, boy, I’m about to give you the best advice you’ll hear today, maybe the best advice of your lifetime”. He told me house prices in the area were going up 1% a month, so mortgage the biggest house I could qualify for. I didn’t, but his advice did help guide our final selection. We bought at $120k in 1983 and sold for $250k in 1988. We could have sold for $280k, if we had sold in 1987. Financially, this was one of the best things that has happened to us.

So, my stories suggest, don’t forget about the non-job introduction of the new person. It’s very important too.

KoachCSR,

You need to write out company standards. For example, no one should get anywhere near 3D mechanical CAD without an understanding of modelling and drawing practise. How should she do calculations? How should she communicate with co-workers?

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Lots of good advice above. Somewhat in the same vein is mine:

While I knew how to draw (manual drafting), I had no idea what half the symbols meant on the drawings at my first company. Eventually, I got signed up for a drawing reading class, which was quite helpful. But not until my 2nd company did I get any GD&T training. While I never did any drafting on my own until many years later, knowing how to interpret drawings, or helping to define the requirements that lead to those callouts, was of great help. Ya gotta know the lingo if you want to communicate.

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In my first job in a private engineering company, my first assignment was to analyze an existing shear wall for the addition of a penetration. Six years out of school, with four years in the military and two working for a public utility company, I had absolutely no idea what a shear wall was. Never had heard of it. The problem had to be reassigned to someone else, and I was assigned a truss problem to analyze, which I did with no problem. Truss analysis had been drilled into me in school for four years. Maxwell diagram in those days…

Point being here, the school, in six years, never exposed me to one of the most basic concepts in structural engineering - a shear wall - shear, yes, but not a shear wall. As with any sport, one has to be proficient at the basics to get better.

Find out what they know of the simple concepts, then teach them more.

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When I started with my new company a couple years ago, I was assigned an office buddy (all new hires are assigned an office buddy) that was my go to person to ask any questions to until I got my bearings within the company. My office buddy just stopped by my cube towards the end of the day or around lunch time once a week for 2 months to just ask me “how’s it going?” Most times it was 10 minutes of office banter, a handful of times we got into detailed questions about projects and forgot to each lunch. It did wonders to make me feel setup for success within the organization.

Whether it’s you or someone else on the team, if you can arrange it for someone to have regular contact for a couple months so they have someone they are comfortable talking to I think you will be doing her and the company a great service.

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Koach,
The fact you’re even planning this makes you better than maybe 50% that just drop someone in a chair and let them figure it out.

Great advice provided so far. I will add: Make time in the budget for this mentoring task. If you assign someone to support the new employee, but your company accounting system ties their hands to only work on billable projects or other sorts of constraints, then after a week they will look at the hole in their weekly hours and suddenly avoid being a mentor next week. I’ve watched this happen and things were going to get sour for the new hire until I stepped in and worked things out with the department head. Our company’s accounting system warps some of our priorities, without some of us noticing it.

Are you the person who interviewed and hired her? If so, give some thought to documenting the reasons you chose her over others, and review them during, say, a yearly review. Oh - that of course means you do an annual review of your employees… right?

When introducing someone to your company procedures, you may suddenly be struck by how dumb some of your company procedures might sound, when you actually explain them to somebody else. Be prepared to learn something from the fresh perspective.

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Thank you, everyone, for the excellent input thus far!

@SuperSalad - Based on your suggestions, I’ve added a walkthrough of our company org chart and a discussion of “key players” she will likely be interacting with most from other departments. Thank you!

@Latexman - She is relocating to the area and, especially given the difficult time of the pandemic, we’ll do our best to give her the lay of the local land outside the office to help her acclimate to the area.

@RevDesigner - In all honesty, our company isn’t the best at writing out standards, but we are doing better as time goes. I’ve created some process flow charts for my department which will hopefully set workflow expectations clearly and other items I’ll need to convey directly for now. We do have procedures for several of our work products, like calculations, that she’ll be trained on.

@btrueblood - At your suggestion, I’ve added a drawing knowledge course to the development plan.

@MSQUARED48 - As we progress through the development plan initially here, I’m thinking I may develop a “Phase 2” development plan for 6 months + as I see where her strengths and weaknesses lie.

@jari001 - I have assigned a mentor for her very much in the same vein as the office buddy you mention. We’ve agreed that between myself or her mentor, one of us will set apart an hour each Friday for a general chat to address any questions, comments, or suggestions our new hire might have…with the understanding that this mentor will be available as needed throughout the week and “check in” periodically as well.

@SparWeb - Luckily, my department is not overly pre-occupied with strictly billable time. I’ve had a couple of discussions with her mentor - whom I’m counting on helping with several training classes also - and feel we are on the same page regarding time needed, at least initially, in mentoring efforts. I was, indeed, the person who interviewed her and hired her - and I will definitely take up your suggestion on recounting those factors that set her apart in her first evaluation. We do evaluations regularly, every six months. Also, I’m looking forward to the fresh perspective myself - it’s funny how you don’t realize something doesn’t make good sense until someone tells you that.

Everyone - thank you for the great advice so far; I’ve had some good takeaways from everything suggested thus far. Much appreciated and thanks in advance to anyone else with some wisdom to share.

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Golly,
Your company has an org chart!
I work for a company that puts executive and director names in boxes and draws lines between the boxes… I know what people call it, but that’s not how this company actually works…

She’ll be ready to mentor the next new hire in no time!

IMPORTANT BRIEFING SUBJECT:

Personally escort the new hire around the place, teaching them how to set the burglar alarm when they have to close up. Pay particular attention to interior doors that need to be closed and doors that need to be open in order to arm the alarm. Also cover the details of the second alarm system, so the facility manager is not rousted out of bed by the cops ten minutes after you’ve gone, because you set off the secondary alarm while dealing with a misinderstanding of the primary.

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@MikeHalloran - we have a hands-on walkthrough at the alarm panel on each employee’s first day; along with a unique alarm code assigned to that employee. There’s a local ordinance here that ascribes fines to companies or homes with excessive false alarms, so we do our best not to have that problem. We don’t have a secondary alarm system thankfully.

I’m assuming you have some first hand experience with such difficulty given some of the specific details in your recommendation; purely out of curiosity, were you the facility manager called out of bed or the unlucky person who set off the secondary alarm?

I was not the facility manager…

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Spot on Mike. Never been a facility mgr. but have been the “culprit” that had an alarm go off due to incomplete instructions. Embarrassing at first, then annoying when you find out it’s not really your fault. Makes you start not wanting to stay late for any reason when it recurs.

Can I come work with you?

None of my jobs… NONE… did this for me. What a fantastic idea.

One thing to add - ask two or three of the most recent hires to invite her to lunch or for drinks after work, or whatever the COVID version is, so that she feels connected right away. That will make a huge difference too.

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@SLTA - Come on over, we can always use a good SE like yourself :slight_smile:

COVID definitely makes your suggestion difficult compared to “normal times” - we would usually have a bi-monthly happy hour that a good amount of folks would come to. I think I’ll arrange an online “game night” the first week to give an opportunity for “some” socializing with folks in the company. We’ve been having some online game nights over Teams and we play some of the Jackbox games (www.jackboxgames.com)…which are fantastic especially after everyone’s had a drink or two :smiley:

Good suggestion!

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Some of the new grad hires that have joined my company since the start of stay at home orders have a standing lunch call every other week. They talk over Teams and the one rule is that you have to have your camera on so new people can see faces and get know others more normally.

Jackbox is great - my friends and I play on the weekends via Zoom.

Lunch room etiquette.
Refrigerator use.
Who buys coffee?
Who cleans the micro-wave?
Disposable cups or bring your own?