Supervisor: Preparing for New Staff First Days

You have expended significant University resources to recruit and hire a new staff member.  Retaining and engaging the newcomer to be successful and productive in his/her new role is your responsibility as the supervisor.  According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), new hires go through a socialization process in which they acquire the attitudes, behaviors and knowledge needed to be successful organizational members.  Here are some tips to assist in that socialization process.

Create a Learning Environment

  • Review Departmental Orientation materials from University HR and check with your Unit HR Representative for unit specific info.
  • When a new employee begins, he/she starts to learn about job tasks via training.  Supervisors can assist by helping him/her understand the role and duties and how he/she impacts the unit, college/organization and the University.   Understanding how their role relates to the big picture helps engage staff and adds meaning to the work being done. 
  • Assign a coworker as a trainer/expert resource who can assist you with additional training.  The right person can present information positively, train patiently and adapt to individual learning needs.  Check in with both the trainer/expert resource and the new employee to evaluate progress. 
  • Begin discussions early about career interests and how they can be nurtured/developed at the University.  Staff who feel they can develop a career not just have a job are more committed and engaged. Career Systems International has some advice on how to have that conversation.
  • Staff who do not have English as their first language may need additional assistance, particularly to learn how to do the job safely. Staff Language and Culture Services can help.

Build a Trusting Work Relationship

  • By understanding and managing the stresses and issues new hires often experience, supervisors can begin to develop a high-quality work relationship with the new staff member. 
    • Ask how the individual learns best and use that in designing the job orientation
    • Ask what is motivational (praise, new assignments, training opportunities, opportunity to meet and work with new people, etc) and use that in your coaching for productive performance
    • Ask how the individual likes to be recognized ( words of praise, written notes, public or private recognition) and use that technique to regularly give positive feedback when performance meets or exceeds expectations
    • Ask the best way to give feedback that makes a positive impact on learning and performance
    • Discuss the culture of the university and your unit:
      • Is email, phone or meetings the preferred method of communication?Under what circumstances is one preferred over another?
      • Who is the decision-maker for various decisions?When is the employee expected to act on his/her own?At what point are actions taken expected to be communicated and to whom?
      • Is it appropriate for the new person to suggest process improvements?When, how?
      • Is the use of electronic devices such as cell phones for texting, tablets/laptops, etc., during meetings encouraged or discouraged?Can personal calls be taken during work time?Can the internet be accessed for personal use during work time?
    • Ask if the individual would like to share any personal interests which can influence performance or motivation; if needed offer resources such as Faculty and Staff Services/Employee Assistance Program, Faculty and Staff Disability Services, or Family Services, etc., UI HR Tools for Departments  or Staff Language and Culture Services Training and Support
  • Share your background, interests, and supervisory style; discuss how you wish to receive feedback about projects and problems
  • Recognize generational differences and their potential impact on how you manage the individual and how you can help them integrate with the rest of the team.  For more Leading a Multi-generational Workplace Remember that these are generalizations and individuals may behave differently.
  • Individuals who have identities different than the majority of employees on campus (such as minority racial groups, sexual orientation or identity, ethnic or religious background, etc.) may have additional needs for help to adjust to the workplace.  Staff function best when they can be their authentic selves.  Resources are available at Diversity at Iowa Communities

Develop Performance Expectations

  • By clearly outlining performance expectations and outcomes, the new employee will have a better understanding of what to focus on and how to achieve results.  Research shows that high performing organizations have clear goals and expectations set for each employee with regular coaching and feedback (at least weekly during the first few months and then monthly during the first year and quarterly after that).  For assistance, go to Performance Management

Encourage Socialization, Engagement and Wellness

  • Encourage the new employee to learn more about the University so s/he can feel a part of the whole organization.Understanding the mission, how the University works, its services and opportunities.This will help connect the employee, build engagement, and pride in the University.Info will be shared with the new employee through onboarding emails.Allow the employee time to review.
  • Check in with any training staff, coworkers, and the new employee to assess how the socialization is progressing.
  • Remind the employee to take advantage of wellness information at UI liveWell