The One Thing every new employee needs (and never ever gets)

This post was first published on 4 February 2012. It’s still a rare workplace that onboards new employees effectively. Information and communication are key tools, but are used inadequately.

What every new employee needs – and never, ever gets – is a So You’re New Here and You’ll Need to Know This Stuff Handbook. As far as I’m aware there is no such thing, and there should be. I’m not talking about inductions here, but a Handbook that tells you exactly what you need to know about stuff that no one tells you about. Stuff that takes you weeks – if not months – to work out, and any number of embarrassing faux pas to learn from. A So You’re New Here and You’ll Need to Know This Stuff Handbook would make settling into your new workplace so much easier. It would eliminate the guessing games that are so much a part of a new job, and spill the beans on how things REALLY work. At the very least, it should cover these:

1. How to manage your manager: their strengths and weaknesses; their agenda; their work preferences; their education and work history; their management experience and philosophy; idiosyncrasies and pet hates; whether they share information or withhold it; whether they’d come in to bat for you in a crisis or hang you out to dry; how trustworthy they are; and exactly what they want and expect from you in no uncertain terms.

Takeout: make it as easy as you possibly can for your new employee to work with you.

2. Who’s who in the zoo: who to avoid and why; who will help you and who will hinder you; who sees you as a threat; who talks too much; who doesn’t like to talk at all; who will use you for their own purposes; who’s a game player and who’s a straight shooter; who you can trust when push comes to shove; and who will tread on you in their relentless pursuit to climb the corporate ladder.

Takeout: make it as easy as you possibly can for your new employee to work with others.

3. A potted history of your work group or unit: why your job was created or vacated; who opposed it and who wanted it; who supported your appointment and why; who wanted someone else and why; whether your workgroup is fighting for their survival or flush with cash; whether your unit is politically on the nose in the scheme of things, or whether they are considered potential saviours of the universe; what the power-brokers in the organisation’s hierarchy really think about your unit.

Takeout: make it as easy you possibly can for your new employee to work with their environment.

4. Any information that will help you get things done: what should be said and what should not; what’s implied but never stated; which qualifications and types of work are valued and respected, and which are not; who gets the opportunities and who doesn’t; what the elephant in the room is; who the critics, advocates and influencers are; whether information flows freely or is locked down as tight as Alcatraz.

Takeout: make it as easy as you possibly can for your new employee to get the job done.


Did this post resonate with you?

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4 thoughts on “The One Thing every new employee needs (and never ever gets)

  1. You’re such an idealist! (but, yes, a very good idea indeed.)

    That’s why people stay…because it takes so damn long to read the runes. It is the one value of working alone at home, certainly.

    My husband works in an organization that moves at a glacial pace, is byzantine with intrigue and no one has any real power. But at least I know that much!

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