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I started a new role this week, it’s been an interesting start and has left me thinking about how we bring new people into businesses and what we could do to make this better and what I need.

My experience this week hasn’t been great; I arrived at the appointed time (having had to ask what that was) and was directed to a hot desk and told that there was an email for me to log in (I had to ask for the wireless password to be able to do this).

Thankfully I had brought my laptop; I hadn’t been told it was a BYOD office.  I was given a quick tour to meet people – names given too fast and with no real idea of what individuals did and then I was given a pack of information (well I say pack – I mean 2 documents that were not at first glance connected), a log into a huddle site and left alone.  “Oh we’re all going out to a meeting this afternoon so you’ll be here alone” – and they did.

Now I’m not exaggerating any of this or using poetic licence – it sounds pretty bad right?  But this is not in any way unusual – I’m a contractor you see, an interim brought in to plug a gap, meet a need, put my thumb in the dyke so people around me are busy, know they need me but don’t have time to show me what to do.

Usually this wouldn’t be an issue for me, but this time it’s been a bit of a challenge.  You see I spent the last 18 months in a position where I had no real autonomy and my work, output and direction were very clearly monitored (not lead, or managed but monitored).

In short I was not encouraged to think for myself, and now I am expected to make things happen, set my own agenda, targets and find my own work.  It’s great, grown up and everything that I missed in my last role but it has taken me a week to shift my brain.

I’m feeling quite empowered and engergised now and made the decision today to work from home as I have a few key documents to write and tight deadlines so the focus and quiet of my ‘room of my own*’ are essential.

So what can we learn from this – actually there are some really simple things employers can do to make that ‘new girl’ experience much better:

  • take the time to send a first day email – you are paying this person, investing in them and want them to be successful – start them off right.  It will take 10 mins of your time (maybe less) to write a short note confirming working arrangements (time to arrive, who to ask for, whether there will be kit or it BYOD, whether there is tea/coffee/water, what to expect the first day).
  • If you can get a pack of information available – or a list of things to read
  • Let the people they are going to be sat near or work with know they are coming – again a short email saying Amanda is coming to be HR lead on X would have made my first few days much easier
  • Put in some time – maybe the end of day 2 or early day 3 – put some time aside to give the new colleague room to ask questions, clarify understanding 

I’m not talking complicated or sophisticated on boarding or induction just a few things to ensure that your new employee gets up and running quickly and feels welcome and wanted.

I’m really excited about my new role – it’s stretching and challenging and a whole new industry so my learning curve is a little daunting at the moment; but it’s also liberating and ‘grown up’ – or as a colleague of mine said  – the guys here are great,  grown up, friendly but with just the right amount of cynicism.


*I’ll tell you more about the ‘room of my own’ another time.