New Workers vs. Newborns

A newborn baby is awful. Whoops, AN awful lot like a new employee. They can’t do very much and may cause you to lose sleep. They require constant attention and they need you to teach them everything, including what is expected of them.

All too often I hear about employees who were let go, saying “it just isn’t working out” at least that’s the PG version. This isn’t necessarily the employees fault. A new employee needs help acclimatizing to their new world, the same way a baby does. They count on you to show them the ropes. The old adage “sink or swim” works for nobody. Trust me when I say, newborn babies will sink, every time.

A company that wants to retain their workers will create and implement a training procedure that produces qualified and confident employees. In parenting we call it taking time for training. While it may be faster (and cleaner) to spoon feed your child today, they are eventually going to require the skills to feed themselves. Similarly, it may be easier to hire an experienced worker over a newbie but we all know, that’s not always an option. Having a newborn or a newbie is and should be a huge time commitment. It is a parent and a company’s responsibility to make this time for them.

Just like in kindergarten, new employees should get show and tell. No, they don’t get to bring in their special dirty old band aid, YOU need to show and tell THEM. Assign them to another worker, as a mentor, to show them how to do their job. It’s important that the mentor also tells them what they are doing, and why. Lastly, the mentor should make sure they get a chance to try it themselves. Researcher Walter Burke Barbe tells us there are three styles of learning: auditorily, visually and kinesthetically. As individuals, we tend to do well when we learn in one of those ways, and it’s different for everyone. Show and Tell with a chance to Try, ensures you cover all three learning styles, giving your employee the best shot at understanding and retaining the info. In parenting we refer to this as setting them up for success. Even if they have prior experience, it is our job to provide our trainees with the skills they require to thrive, whether it’s how to sit up and crawl or how to install a shingle.

Our final responsibility to our newbies is to set realistic expectations. Have a conversation and write down what is expected of them on a day in and day out basis as well as at a big picture level. Describe what a home run is to you and set achievable and measurable goals for moving up through the company. Be realistic though, you wouldn’t expect a newborn to grasp the concept of potty training.
Then, if you ever hear yourself say “it’s just not working out” (or worse) stop and evaluate why. A new employee’s success or failure at their new job is as much a reflection on the company who hired them as it is on their own capabilities. That company should be proud of their employees, the same way every parent beams the first time their child walks, talks and wipes their own butt!
For a more in depth look at all of this and to get some practical tips on how your company can improve the development of your employees, sign up for and attend our next webinar here.

Sue Drummond is a Customer Success Manager at Harness, an app focused on helping contractors better manage their health and safety program. She is also a mom, blogger, and past roofing small business owner. www.harnessup.com

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