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How to Help a New Coworker Succeed

Being a new employee can be scary and intimidating. For starters, there are all those unanswered questions: What’s expected of me? Can I do the job? Will my coworkers and my boss like me, and will I like them? Is this a place where I can succeed?

“To help someone who is starting out in your company, remember how you felt on your first day. Was it a pleasant experience? If so, what made it that way? If not, were you treated in a way that increased your stress?” says Julie Alexander, C.S.P., founder and CEO of Great Days in Garland, Texas. “Very often, people feel welcome when they are included in little and big ways.”

Here are some things you can do to make a new employee feel welcome.

Facilitate friendships

Help a new staff member make friends because work friendships are an important factor in whether new employees stay with a company.

To help the person make connections with others, find out something interesting about him to say when making introductions to coworkers. He may have a hobby or interest that you or others also enjoy, or he could be from a far-off city or country.

Make sure your new coworker has someone to eat with at lunch time. Sitting alone in the employee cafeteria or going to a restaurant alone can be disheartening and lonely. Lunch is a great time to get acquainted with someone new.

“The new employee doesn’t have to be your new best friend, but should be treated with courtesy,” says Ms. Alexander. “Just keep in mind how you felt at the beginning.”

Help the person succeed

“Help a new employee get a handle on her job as quickly as possible because the faster you can help her get up to speed, the easier your job becomes,” advises Ms. Alexander.

Every company has its unique culture. So, if there are company traditions, buzzwords or procedures that a newbie might not know, explain them.

Be positive

“Don’t color the new person’s attitude with a negative paintbrush,” warns Ms. Alexander.

For example, you may be tempted to talk about a difficult colleague with the new employee. But Ms. Alexander advises you to bite your tongue and stop any temptation to gossip.

“Don’t bad-mouth a fellow coworker or your boss,” she says. “A new employee doesn’t need more things to worry about, and, your negative words about others may come back to haunt you.”

Reassure

Because it’s easy to get overwhelmed with information, be patient. Reassure your coworker that she doesn’t have to learn everything the first day, and that things will be fine just as long as she keeps making progress.

“New employees need lots of encouragement because they’re in the midst of change,” Ms. Alexander reminds. “Praise the person often for progress and a good attitude.”

In addition, let the person know you’re available to answer any questions but don’t hover over him checking that he does every single detail correctly.

Persevere

“It’s not easy to work with a new coworker and it may take several weeks until everyone feels comfortable and trusts the person will do the job correctly,” Ms. Alexander says. “However, when everyone offers friendship, patience and encouragement, the process goes much faster and everybody benefits.”