27 April 2009

New Hire Overload

I remember starting a new job at a law firm and on my first day I was handed a 3-inch white binder and told to read it. The Human Resources Director pointed me to a small office and I was left alone to read what must have been 200 pages.

As I was going through the manual, I saw chapters on office procedures, confidentiality, health and safety, security and more. All important information, but I knew I couldn't possibly retain much of what I was looking at in one sitting so I started to cheat and flip through a few tabs because I had to sign a form that I read the manual.

I remember throughout the first week that I was there, when I asked a question on how to do something, someone would say, "it's in the manual, did you not read it?"

I think people forget how overwhelming everything can be when you start a new job. Your co-workers are probably all new to you, you don't know how to use the photocopier or fax machine and more importantly "where is the bathroom?"

This particular law firm had approximately 150 people in the office. I was taken on a tour of the premises and they pointed out the office equipment I would need to use and introduced me to everyone we met. How was I going to remember everyone's name, let alone find everything again? I was still holding the binder they had given me, while trying to look intelligent and smiling as we moved along to the next person.

The first week on the job can be very overwhelming. Be kind to your new hires and available to answer their questions and help them learn the ropes. The sooner they are up to speed, the sooner they will be able to contribute to the team and that helps everyone.


Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia:
There is nothing like true experience to teach us something like what you have just shared. We too have what we call "Job Aides" and a new hire is given the manual to read before starting the position. Albeit, I do the introductions first (50+ people to meet) and then start with first-thing-in-the-morning tasks. But, having read what you just wrote, I realize that there is more hands-on that I must do before expecting a new hire to learn how to do the job. It's not enough to just be available for questions; there are things that need going through right off the bat. Thanks for a great article.
Patty Buckner

Anonymous said...

An office where I once worked took this to the next level. We had an extensive checklist for new hires and portions of it were divided among several administrators with regard to explaining his/her area(s) of responsibility. This checklist was given to the new hire and to each administrator as their guide to help them through the process and the hiring supervisor would schedule an appointment during the first week on the job with each of the administrators. The checklist also included such things as a tour (bathrooms, breakroom, where to find a frig to store lunches, etc.) It was a wonderful tool.

Unknown said...

I just started at a law firm this week. I have not had much guidance. They have about 9 lawyers, 2 paralegals, 1 receptionist (me), and a office manager. I basically know how to answer the phones and take messages. Then they suddenly say hey do this.... Well now I have to figure out how to do it with no help becuase erveryone is busy with their own stuff. It is overwhelming. I have not even been formally introduced or given a overview on perks. Heck I had to ask how much I make.... I know they are extremely busy having been without their paralegal and receptionist but sheesh

Patricia Robb said...

Yes, it can be very overwhelming. Here is another article I wrote called The New Kid on the Block that you may find helpful.

All the best.