Abbe Meehan: Tips for Onboarding New Employees

Joining a new organization can be challenging, especially for those who are just out of school. Getting used to office politics, trying to understand different personalities, and even sifting through all the orientation material can be stressful.

It’s helpful when hospitals and companies realize that new employees can benefit from additional support. Here are a few tips—for both supervisors and new employees—to make the onboarding process a success.

For managers:

Check in. People receive a lot of material when they join a company. So much of this information is brand new, especially for those who are recent graduates. They don’t know what to expect, and they don’t want to look foolish by asking questions they think others may see as basic. So check in. And don’t simply ask, “How are things going?” New employees will mostly likely say fine. Ask what you can do to make their job easier. Similarly, don’t ask, “Are you having any problems?” Instead, ask, “What’s been the most difficult thing for you so far?”

Provide the right tools and training. After a week or two, see if the new hire has all the tools he or she needs to be successful. If a new technician requests something that you are not prepared to supply, explore what tools and training you can provide that will help you and the employee be successful. New technicians may not understand the business side of the job. They may not understand why they can’t have the tool or training they think is necessary. Take the time to explain the big picture. Explain return on investment so they mature and begin to understand how decisions are made.

Give feedback. One of the things most new employees yearn for is feedback from their manager. The most frustrated employees are the ones who haven’t received any feedback, so they don’t know how they are doing.

For new employees:

Be confident. Have the courage to ask questions when you don’t really understand something. You’re new. No one expects you to know everything.

Don’t be too confident. Remember, you are the new kid on the block. Most of you have fabulous ideas and are very excited about your new job, but no one likes a know-it-all. Be cognizant of when, where, and how to express your opinions. Chances are you are working with people who have been doing this job for a long time, and they may feel defensive if you come on too strong.

Do you have your own tips or ideas to share? Please post them here. Others could learn from your experience.

Abbe Meehan is president and executive coach of the TEC Resource Center. She will be facilitating a new employee roundtable at the AAMI Annual Conference & Expo in Denver next month.

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