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Q&A Monday: Making a new employee feel at home

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Question:

I recently started a new position at a company and one of the first major responsibilities of this position was hiring two new helpdesk analysts.  I made it through the interview and selection processes, but I want to make them feel as welcomed and at home as possible.  Do you have any advice?

Ramon Allen
Stratford, TX

Answer:

Anyone knows that starting a new job in IT can be a bit overwhelming, usually because there IT is naturally a quick high-pressure environment working with people who may not be all that forgiving.  Making someone feel at home

 

Starting a job can be stressful and a bit overwhelming for your new recruits — especially in a high-pressure IT environment. Here are a few things you can do to help them feel at ease and learn the ropes more quickly.  I generally feel more at home, when I understand the rules of where I’m working at…and how things get processed.

1) Lunch/Dinner/Happy Hour

Every single job that I’ve had, I have had one of the above done for me.  Even now when starting a new job (and the employee count allows it), is I go out to lunch with them.  This gives you the ability to get to know someone outside of the office environment and helps build a bond between co-workers.  In the IT world, every job I’ve had…my co-workers became a family to me, because in the end I had to rely upon them.  That bond for me, usually took place over a friendly lunch.

2) delaying full administrative rights

This idea may seem at first as if you don’t trust them, but that’s not the case at all.  Anyone who’s worked in IT can tell you every system is different and different policy and procedures exists.  Making a change that they may of done 1000 time on other systems may cause a problem with the current one.  Taking the admin permissions away, gives them a safety net, time to learn the ropes and understand your policy and procedures, all which will lower stress in the end.

3) Provide Network documentation

Understanding the environment they are working on has two benefits, the first being makes them more comfortable working and two helps them understand the environment.  Give them a copy, even if only part of it falls under their support, encourage them to ask questions or make note…and if you feel like it, tell them there will be a quiz.  (I’ve said this many times…but never have actually quizzed anyone).  Take time to explain your naming conventions…like LA-File is the Los Angels File Server where Det-VMHost is the VM Host in Detroit.  Knowing the naming scheme can make identifying and locating servers or computers easier.

4) Give them the full tour

When I started out at my first helpdesk support, I was given a full tour of the office in which I was working, even introduced to the people, so that I would kinda put a face with a name (with so many people I only remembered a couple).  When situations made themselves available my boss would take me out to our satellite office and do the same things there.  It took a couple of months, but I did see every office and it’s setup.  This helped me later when I’d visit these office for work.

5) Identify demanding users

In almost every job that I’ve had, I’ve had that user, whose phone calls you didn’t want to answer, but you know you had to.  When someone new comes it, it’s nice to let them know who the users are going to be.  I’ve picked up the phone a couple of time, unaware of the anger the other person had brewed for months, and my first week I was their outlet.  Just be careful how you talk about your end users.
Plus they can hopefully take a different approach knowing these users are more demanding than the rest.  In my case when I run along these users, I was always a kill them with kindness and go the extra mile to help solve their problems…though it never made them any less demanding, sometimes they were just happy with seeing people try.

6) Keep them informed

IT moves at an insane pace sometimes, and it’s easy to fall behind.  I like to keep my staff as informed as possible, even if it doesn’t involve them.  Why?  Because it keeps everyone on the same page, and where we are with projects and that way if something does move to their plate they know.  Plus you never know what insight they might have.

7) Just Remember the first couple weeks suck

Starting a new job is always rough, and depending on the travel distance or the route they take…they might be adjusting their schedule to this new environment… and be a little laggy.  I went from a job that was a 5 minute drive from my house, to one that was 2 hours…I had to adjust my whole life around it, getting up and ready earlier than I had before.  It took me a bit to be on my game after that kind of adjustment, and then add the stress of a new job and everyone looking at me for answers.

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If you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at me@jimguckin.com, and he’ll try to answer your question. Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and during the rest of the week for his other technical insights.

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