Bringing in a new employee? 5 Tips go get them started right

It's graduation time and many young adults have their sights on that great new job. Some of them will undoubtedly end up in your office. Are you ready to receive them? Of course, you will have the usual new hire orientation that includes a facility tour, introductions, review of policies and papers to sign, but what about the unwritten rules?
I have shared many conversations with client companies and young professionals alike regarding orientation and subsequent experiences. Both groups gave mixed reviews. Using their feedback, here are a few suggestions on making the on-boarding process more valuable.
Don't roll out the red carpet. This may sound strange; nevertheless, it is a fair warning. While an enthusiastic welcome is nice, don't overdo it. Some companies shower new employees with (corporate) gifts, flowers, new employee parking, lunch with the boss and a list of incentives and celebrations to look forward to. While these things are not wrong in and of themselves, it creates a false impression when the actual culture of the company is more solemn than the orientation would suggest. Something is lost when the jovial, high-five celebrations and excited chatter with the newbie give way to a more reticent environment where conversations take place over email rather than face-to-face and daily greetings become inconsistent. I often coach young professionals on business etiquette and workplace relations. Many of them, particularly those on their first (real) job, have reported feeling disillusioned, which affects relationships, productivity and loyalty to the company. "It breaks down trust when they present one way and are really another," one commented. "I started looking for another job a few months later." Fair or unfair, mature or immature, this is the mindset of most career starters today. They are eager, resourceful, ready to contribute and very transient. Gone are the days when employees stayed with a company for 15 to 20 years; now they have 15 to 20 jobs. It is a well-known fact that job-hopping is considered normal for Millenials. Employees age 35 and younger stay with a company an average of three years before moving on. The point – be welcoming yet authentic. Millenials value and relate to what is genuine.
Set the tone early. With smaller companies it is sometimes tempting to skip the formalities of orientation. But just because your company has a family feel does not mean you should not go through a formal orientation checklist. To simply "wing it" sends the wrong message that your new employee can also forgo certain processes or procedures at will. It is critical to set the right tone early regarding expectations, so that he or she is not later bemused and ends up leaving you with an unexpected vacancy and the costs that go with it. Don't allow lines to be blurred between personal and business from over sharing, for example. Warm and friendly is appropriate but be careful. Don't give room for misinterpretations of your demeanor and friendly gestures early on. Establishing clear boundaries early sets the tone for the relationship to remain professional.
Demonstrate and elaborate; lead not read. It is a mistake to rely on the employee handbook to provide guidance alone. Demonstrate certain procedures – be seen performing them correctly (no workarounds). Demonstrate the right conduct, attire and professional demeanor. In other words, lead by example. If your company has a written code of conduct and dress code, provide clarity; don't leave it to interpretation. Don't just ask, "Do you have any questions?" and assume there will be proper understanding and execution. Millenials have more answers than questions! Be clear about expectations to avoid future troubles.
State the not-so-obvious. Coaching young professionals does not have to be formalized. Help sharpen soft skills by offering insight and lessons learned on diplomacy, grooming for leadership, meeting manners and various forms of communication – especially faux pas. If you expect employees to "dress up" for certain meetings (when casual is the norm) then say so up front. No one wants to tell a person after she has arrived to work that her wardrobe choice is less than desirable or appropriate. Stating this during the week of orientation makes it easier to receive, as a month later may seem like disapproval or a personal attack. Address any unwritten rules about shared work areas and cubicle etiquette, preferred methods of communication while in the office
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By Michelle Powell CEO of Professional Manner May 12th, 2014

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