Starting a new job can be scary.
It is in your interests as a manager to help new starters settle in and feel at ease as quickly as possible - then they will be able to add the value you hired them for.
There is a lot you can do during someone’s first week to help them.
But one of the most important things you can do is to build rapport and trust with them.
You are going to have a close working relationship.
And in my experience as a coach, for most of my clients, the relationship with their boss has a massive impact in how they feel about work.
And of course, they will spend more time with their co-workers than with their family.
So helping them build rapport with their team quickly will pay dividends later, in having a happy and productive team member.
Here are some tips to help you support a new starter, and a build a positive relationship with you.
Helping them settle into the team
1. Make sure your people are ready for them.
Let your team know in good time that a new person will be starting.
Ideally do this in a team meeting, rather than over an email (which can be more easily ignored).
Remind them of their purpose in the team.
Talk about them as a person, and how they came across when you recruited them.
Send round a photo if you can.
Give them a potted history of their background, and encourage them to identify similar past experiences as a starting point for connections.
And then the day before, remind them again - particularly of their name!
And ask them to introduce themselves as soon as they meet them, explain their role on the team, and when appropriate mention any shared or similar past experiences.
Ask the people sitting near them to be particularly welcoming.
Help your staff understand that helping a new person feel welcome is part of what makes the kind of high-performing team that you all want to be part of.
And by familiarising your team with the new person in advance, you are already creating a situation where the new person fits in.
2. Create more organised opportunities for building connection
There will be specific people that the new team member will work with most often.
So set up some introductory meetings and/or coffees with these people (scattered throughout the first week, to avoid overwhelm!).
This is a chance to have a 1:1 conversation, to deepen relationships and understanding.
It is also a great idea to nominate a buddy, so they have someone to ask the “silly” questions that always occur when you’re new.
If possible, nominate or ask for a volunteer that is a similar grade, role and age, which will again help build rapport more quickly.
You can also consider whether nominating people for them to have lunch with is helpful.
Some people might find having an hour to themselves to absorb and process all the new information might be exactly what they want.
Others might like the opportunity to have an informal chat with more people.
So you could consider arranging volunteers, and offering it as an option.
3. Have all the logistical stuff prepared
There is nothing worse than arriving somewhere to feel unwelcome, or unexpected.
So do make sure all the practical stuff is ready for them: workstation, logins, all the usual HR requirements.
(And please never arrange for a new member of staff to start work when you are on holiday or away travelling…)
Helping them build rapport with you
1. Prepare for their arrival
There are so many areas of unknown, and opportunities for confusion, when you first start somewhere new!
As their boss, you are their main signpost, dictionary and Wikipedia.
Think about what you would like to know from a boss when you start somewhere new:
what are your main objectives in the job?
what are your boss’ priorities for now?
who are the best people to get to know first?
what short-term requirements do you have to meet (if any)?
Take the time to think this through, so that you are ready to help them get up to speed as quickly as possible when they start.
2. Build open channels of communication from the start
Building a positive relationship based on mutually understood expectations will be your priority during their first week.
Clarifying expectations will probably need to be done over a number of conversations, as their understanding will develop during their initial time there, and they will be able to better grasp what you are asking of them.
So arrange a private meeting on their first day, and another one perhaps at the end of that first week.
And use it not just for clarifying expectations, but for building a positive working relationship.
Start by offering them an opportunity to talk about themselves: what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy in their last job; why they moved to this role; their career hopes and dreams.
If you can find common ground to discuss, do.
And tell them a bit about you: your career background, your career goals.
Sharing personal stories and dreams will build that sense of trust between you.
Then explain clearly what you expect from them, both as a new starter and in the longer-term.
Explain how your relationship will work - what kind of supervision or contact they can expect.
And then offer lots of time for questions!
There may not be so many questions during the first session, as they may not yet know what they don’t know.
Which is why a second session at the end of that first week is so valuable - by then, there will definitely be additional questions you can answer.
And you want them to trust that you will help guide them, so that they will be able to perform at their best.
It is also a good idea if at least one of these sessions is more informal - over lunch, or over coffee.
It offers a chance to build a different dynamic into the relationship, and could result in the new staff member feeling more free to ask more difficult or personal questions.
Imagine how much better your first week an a new job would be, if your boss and team make these efforts to help you fit in!
p.s. if you'd like help with becoming an excellent manager, get in touch. With a decade of experience managing teams, plus my coaching expertise, I can help you excel.
Things to do and consider
If you have a new member of staff starting soon, implement the suggestions in this article.
If not, consider your relationship with your current members of staff.
How strong is the rapport and trust between you?
What more could you do to enhance it, through the sharing of personal stories, offering 1:1 time for interactions, or encouraging more questions?