Making the most of very new employees

In my last contribution, I covered some of the things we can do to make ourselves employers of choice and to become work places which are attractive to prospective employees. A lot of this “attractiveness” is created by having a positive work atmosphere, offering many opportunities and showing ourselves to be innovative and results driven.

Empowered and motivated employees are likely to give back to our organisations a great deal in terms of effort and commitment. Effort and commitment are important, but beyond that, we also need to harness the unique skills and perspectives that new employees can bring to us. All organisations need to focus on how to be more innovative and how to embrace change in a practical way. Doing this successfully may mean we need to challenge the traditional perspective of the new employee as a passive presence who will take a little while to make a measurable difference to the effectiveness of the organisation. We need to start to see them as someone who may have the capacity to make an immediate difference, even if it is just through their existing knowledge as well as their attitudes and opinions.

In a previous life, as a Manager within the field of Military Logistics, I was frequently required to introduce and then nurture new people into the area of operations I was responsible for. Whilst lacking technical knowledge of the logistics environment, they often brought with them experience from other workplaces and operational environments in both public and private enterprise. One thing I liked to do, and which often surprised my colleagues, was to arrange a meeting with the new staff member after they had been with us for a month to ask them what they thought of the way we did things. I made sure that I did this in a genuine way and really emphasised why I was so interested to hear their opinions.

Quite often these new people would question me on why we undertook certain tasks the way we did, or the reasons behind some of the regular activities undertaken. In some cases, I was at a loss to explain this, other than saying that it was the way things had always been done! It was refreshing to hear an opinion from someone who was not yet “too close” to the work processes and who felt comfortable questioning them and often even expressing their own opinions on how things might be done differently. Very often these discussions raised issues of sufficient merit that they were included for discussion at our regular team meetings.

The next time you take on a new person, show them how much you value their presence by asking them candidly about their impressions as an outsider, of the way things are done in your organisation. It will take a little courage on your part, but you may be surprised at what you hear and perhaps be able to use their contribution as part of your ongoing quest for improvement and renewal.

Matthew Doig

Making the most of very new employees


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