I recently spoke to a group of peers at a leadership forum. It dawned on me about 20 minutes into the presentation — (about how long it took me to get to the point…) that experience in our career field is important because it gives us the benefit of a different perspective.
I shared the example of when you try to give someone directions to a place you’ve driven to a million times, but you can’t remember the street names because you don’t think about it any more. It’s the same issue when working with a new employee coming into the workforce. Some administrative professionals have been with their company for more than 20 years. They don’t think about how to do something anymore.. they just do it! So here are a few suggestions I hope will help some of the more veteran admins, like myself, ease our new coworkers into the workforce.
- Patience. Don’t I know how hard this is. Things that are completely second nature to admins- like shipping a fedex envelope- are not so simple to someone that has never done it. Either walk them through it or add it to your procedures binder.
- Let them know you are going to be available for questions. This allows new admins to not hold the burden of feeling like they are supposed to have all the answers.
- Be Respectful. Rookie employee ≠useless human being.
- If you’re feeling particularly generous, give them some background (not gossip) on the nature of the work. An example would be if you know that two weeks before the company’s annual conference that the phones begin to ring incessantly, you just might want to give them the heads up.
- Tools. If you have a tool that you utilize, Evernote® or OneNote® or a legal pad list– offer it as a suggested way to keep track of all the information that is coming at them the first 3 months. Some companies have amazing orientations for their new staff but I suspect the majority of new staff orientations are too vague and generalized. Help a newbie out.
- Do you leave the newbie hanging in a bad spot or give them a clue.. Again, YOU know it is a bad idea to heat up smelly food in the office microwave– they may not. They could’ve been heating up blue cheese crumbles in the microwave in their college dorm for all you know. Yes, someone should pull this lovely person aside and let them know the unspoken rules of office etiquette. (This topic warrants its own blog…)
I had forgotten how I came to learn so many undocumented expectations in the workplace and in my field– but I realize now (duh!) that I’ve learned most of it from my good and bad experiences over my career. That, my friend, is a valuable piece of information for me to remember.