How do you take your new hire from the classroom to the boardroom? From 2 AM pizza party gossip to water-cooler chatter? From frat party to office cocktail party?
One word: Preparation.
For many college graduates, transitioning from graduation to their first real job is nerve-racking. Why? Because it may be uncharted territory. Starting their career can feel like a complete 180 from the classic academic structure that graduates have become used to since kindergarten.
But, with a little bit of patience and coaching, you can get your new hire up to speed. Here are seven common problems, complete with solutions.
1. They’re Not Dressing Appropriately
So, your new hire showed up on her first day more suited for Coachella than an office. It’s important to remember that the transition from college wardrobe to office attire isn’t necessarily straightforward. (Because we all remember how casual that 8 AM class was.)
Nip this problem in the bud by clarifying the dress code as part of the introductory training you have planned for that day. And, for your next new hire, make sure to include dress code information in the acceptance letter’s welcome packet.
2. They Need a Crash Course in Writing an Email
Every office has its own way of doing things, including standard email protocols you expect every employee to know. Rather than waiting around for an inappropriate email that makes you cringe, let your new hire know what is (and isn’t) appropriate in your workplace.
Good rules to run down include when to “reply all,” whom to CC (and policies on BCC), salutations (for example, if ‘Hi’ trumps ‘Hey’), punctuation, emoticons, and the importance of proofreading.
3. They Lack Basic Phone Etiquette
According to a study conducted by Bentley University, Millennials do not like talking on the phone. When asked how they’d prefer to interact with colleagues, 51% chose in person, 19% chose email, and only 9% chose speaking over the phone. Not to mention, voicemail isn’t topping any lists either.
However, today’s workplace still requires the ability to make calls and leave voicemails. So, your initial communication training—the one where you talk about email rules—should cover phone etiquette too.
Finally, when discussing phone manners, don’t forget to cover when or if texting is appropriate. Set the ground rules on emojis, slang, typos, abbreviations and appropriate times to contact clients. I once had a former intern text me, “peas out” at 5 PM. After letting him know our office communication policy, he never spoke (or typed) in slang again.
4. They Aren’t Asking Questions (But Are Making Mistakes)
Picture this: You’re introducing your most recent hire around the office, giving him training instructions, inviting him to meetings, and outlining his first projects. You’re expecting him to have follow-up questions, but instead you get radio silence.
The person is probably just really nervous and might see asking a question as a sign of weakness, a disruption in the workflow, or simply annoying. So, encourage your new hire to ask questions. Let him or her know that you’re available and there to help. Make that clear by setting up time to talk every day for the first few weeks.
5. They’ve Never Worked on a Team Before
Unfortunately, not all graduates have sufficient teamwork skills. With open office plans, shared work spaces, and various levels of interaction, today’s work environment can take some getting used to.
Plan some office ice-breakers, team lunches, or happy hours to help workers get to know each other and build relationships. When people are more at ease, they’ll feel more comfortable exchanging ideas.
6. They’re New to Working Across Generations
Along those lines, new grads may notice three generations under the same office roof: fellow Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers.
How do you handle this as a boss? Create a reverse mentoring program at your company. This is a great way to show your younger hires that their opinions and experiences can are valuable to their co-workers—and vice versa. These types of programs blend your staff and create opportunities for cross-generational brainstorming.
7. They Don’t Want to Pay Their Dues
Millennials were not dubbed “The Me, Me, Me, Generation” for nothing. They’re the kids who grew up being told that they’re special, racking up trophies for every little thing. So it’s not really a surprise that some of them may raise their nose at such tasks like taking notes in meetings (as opposed to presenting).
To fix this, focus your new hire on the big picture. Discuss what those lower-rung tasks represent, and why they matter. It’s your job as an supervisor to show your employees that their work is important and valuable.
No matter how many years of experience you have now, keep in mind that you also started at the bottom and were probably just as “behind” as your new hire. So, remember that your new grad is learning, and the ball is in your court when it comes to getting him or her up to speed.