New Season, New Beginnings – How to Set Up Your Newest Hires for Success Sooner

It’s April, and it’s finally spring! This month is one of new beginnings and growth everywhere you look.

On the workforce front, March saw the lowest unemployment rate in the US since the pandemic started, adding over 430,000 new jobs. This means that in the coming weeks there will be a lot more people starting new jobs all over the country. That is a lot of “new beginnings”!

I, myself, started my current role in the Spring of 2019 – and not only was it a new job, but it was a new industry entirely. I went from going to work daily as a Lean Six Sigma practitioner in biopharmaceutical manufacturing to working from home in software presales. While I still work primarily with pharma clients, the change in career came with a steep learning curve.  And that was before the pandemic, mind you!

In the COVID era, many more people have started new jobs working fully from home. This presents an even more challenging environment for new employees to acclimate to their new role. 

Coaching can be hugely beneficial to new employees to help them hit the ground running, and it’s something that leaders can do daily to start getting the most out of their new workforce as soon as possible.

Below are some coaching tips for leaders and employees to welcome all of their new coworkers into the fold.

1) Ask open-ended questions to understand the challenges new employees are facing.

Job onboarding can be tough and stressful for new employees. Even the most seasoned professionals won’t be familiar with the new business—they don’t yet understand the operational interworkings of the company, haven’t yet established rapport with colleagues, and will have to adapt to a new culture. Challenges in these areas are the biggest reason for quick turnover, so it’s imperative for company leadership and colleagues to help them acclimate quickly. 

While it’s important to inform and teach a new employee the company business practices, it’s even more beneficial to ask open-ended questions to help them get onboarded faster. Not only does this allow them to think back to their professional expertise and instincts to come up with the answers, it also provides the precedent for a good coaching culture. 

For example, simple (sometimes obvious), yet powerful questions during 1:1 and team meetings can start to unveil the challenges the new employee is facing:

  • “What’s on your mind?”
  • “What’s your biggest challenge right now?”
  • “What ideas do you have to tackle those challenges?”
  • “How can I help?”
  • “What makes this challenging for you?”

2) Coach them to make them feel part of the team right from the start.

As I was starting off as a new virtual employee at my current job, I was wondering how I would feel part of the team. At my previous company, I had long-standing friendships with colleagues, and I had never questioned ‘fitting in’ when I changed roles internally. But how would I do this virtually at a totally new company?  Fortunately, I felt included right away.

On my first day, my manager met me in person at the local office and included me in our weekly team meeting. I had already ‘met’ my team virtually during the interview process, so it was nice to hear familiar voices again. He also pointed out that later that week, some of the other members of the department would be in my neck of the woods for a client meeting. He encouraged me to go meet them and get involved right away. This was a tad bit intimidating, but hey – they were in my town, my turf, so why not?

I met my colleagues for dinner the evening before the meeting, got to know them a little on a casual level, and the next day I served as the proverbial ‘fly on the wall’ at the client meeting. This helped me immensely in the coming weeks and months when I was planning my own client demos. Since I had already met a few key colleagues in person that first week, I was more comfortable reaching out to them for help when I needed to. 

As a virtual employee, meeting colleagues in person can be a rare event, especially if the team is spread out over distance. If opportunities for in-person gatherings cannot be arranged, leaders should look for opportunities for new employees to be folded into the team remotely, whether by asking them to join important meetings to just meet people and observe, making individual introductions to team members, or by holding virtual team building events. 

3) Coach them to get early wins.

One of the early wins I had in software presales was to get in front of clients who spoke the “pharma manufacturing” language, and explain to them how I’ve experienced the same pain points they have in order to relate. It might have been a small win, but it felt familiar, played into my expertise, and helped boost my confidence as I navigated this new career path.

Early wins are a powerful way for incoming employees to build confidence and credibility. Managers can ask open-ended questions to pull upon a new employee’s prior expertise and skills and understand where they can provide value early. Even if a job is completely new to an employee, chances are there are some overlapping skills people bring into the roles—whether those skills are from a prior job, or even a hobby. This is where wins can happen early and often. The quicker a team lead or colleague can understand where the new hire can provide value, the quicker they can identify opportunities to showcase or implement them.

4) Coach your new hire to balance intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

A coaching strategy that managers can use with new hires is to help them make the connection between intrinsic motivations and extrinsic motivations. Extrinsic motivations are things like compensation, flexible working arrangements, time off, praise, etc. Whereas intrinsic motivations are interest, growth, learning, and development. Leaders can bring out a new employee’s intrinsic motivation by doing the following:

  1. Helping them uncover what type of work experiences will increase their individual skills, sense of competence, and interest. Be on the lookout for opportunities and projects that pull these in. 
  2. Encouraging autonomy as they start to get to know their way around the company so they can have ownership of decision-making processes. 
  3. Coaching them to link actions to their higher purpose and personal values.
  4. Coaching them to start mastering a skill they are already interested in. This could mean encouraging them to take training additional courses, and utilizing their skills in projects. 

Even though they’re sometimes scary, new beginnings are exciting. By utilizing the above strategies, managers, leaders, and colleagues can better help new hires overcome the challenges that come with settling into a new role. Not only will this help the new employee to feel welcome, but it also helps them be productive sooner, which is a bottom-line benefit for the employer.

If you are interested in learning how to use coaching skills in leadership, or receiving 1:1 coaching to guide you to a transformed life, please contact me at deepa@deepavidyakumar.com  – send me a note to say hi, and let’s see how I can help you reach your goals!