Remember your first day on the job? How about your first month? For most of us, memories of those early days at a new gig are probably filled with feelings of excitement and anxiety about names to remember and processes to learn.
There’s a good chance that at some point during your first month, you were asked to provide feedback on the onboarding process you went through—probably in the form of an employee pulse survey. And while that is a necessary practice, one invaluable practice that can help new hires is having a candid conversation with their manager about what they need to be successful in their new role.
As a manager, you know that each employee thinks and works differently. Being successful at your job requires tailoring your management approach to each individual's style and leveraging the resulting rapport for better results for the team and organization.
So what questions should you ask your employees in that first month in order to find out what their ongoing needs are?
These five questions can help you identify how your new hire likes to work, so you can understand how to best support them.
There is no one-size-fits-all management approach, so asking this question makes your job a whole lot easier. Gilad Rom, founder of Huan, puts it perfectly:
Some [employees] may prefer a more hands-on style, whereas others may prefer a more hands-off approach. Understanding what management style works best for them will help them to become more productive employees in the long run.
—Gilad Rom, Founder of Huan
Mismanaging employees can lead to lower productivity, burnout, and even turnover. In fact, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 58% of employees that left their job due to culture say their managers are the main reason they ultimately left.
Acquainting yourself with how your new team member would like to be managed early on will help prevent these pitfalls, as well as start your working relationship off on the right foot.
Recognizing your employee as an individual with personal responsibilities and obligations (as well as professional ones) will go a long way. Asking this question helps your new employee feel comfortable opening up about any roles they may have to take on when they’re off the clock.
For those with parent or caretaker roles, it’s better to be aware of those priorities early on so you can work together to create a communication plan and schedule that works for everyone.
This April, Gartner released research on COVID-19’s impact on working parents. Early findings suggested that over half of working parents have either sporadic or no childcare during business hours in the current environment (full content available to clients). With this being the reality for many, having this conversation is more important than ever.
Showing empathy and enabling flexibility for your new employees with caretaker roles will help them feel secure and supported. Even if the nature of the role offers little flexibility, it’s a good idea to come up with a strategy for how to handle days where your employee has a number of personal obligations to attend to.
In workplaces with a high level of risk (such as construction sites or manufacturing facilities), clear communication can prevent injuries and even save lives. In other industries, the consequences of a miscommunication may not be as high, but employees can still relate to the frustration that arises when wires are crossed.
Asking your new employee this question will help you uncover their preferred communication platforms and frequency. Annabel Maw, director of communications at JotForm, explains why she believes this question is so important:
Since each employee's personality and perspective is different, it's important to uncover how they prefer being communicated with. Prioritizing this from the start helps your team avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings with each other in the short and long term.
—Annabel Maw, Director of communications at JotForm
Set an example by ending meetings with how your employees should reach out to you with any questions they have, and encourage them to share their communication preferences with one another at the beginning of collaborative projects. For example, one employee may prefer to chat through collaboration software while another might be partial to email; one might need a follow-up to keep themselves organized, while another might have their own process of responding to requests.
If all of your team members are aware of each other’s most- and least-favorite types of communication, collaboration should be uncomplicated and productive.
Don’t assume your new hire has everything they need to be productive, especially if they are working remotely. Instead, give them the opportunity to speak up about anything they might need to feel confident and capable in their role. This could be additional training, access to internal documents, equipment, more time for specific tasks, or something else.
By acknowledging and providing them with the resources they need, your new employee will feel supported and set up to succeed. As a bonus, this question can also help you uncover any gaps in your training and onboarding process.
Gartner research published this July found that one in three employees say they are relying on feedback to improve their performance more than they did before the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
The same research stated that the top performance management challenge HR leaders report for 2020 is: “Our employees are NOT getting the type of feedback they need to perform.” (Full content available to clients.)
Knowing that effective feedback will improve employee performance and employees are likely not getting the kind of feedback they need to improve, it’s especially important to understand how and when your new hire would like to receive feedback.
Some employees are partial to a formal review, and others prefer impromptu, in-the-moment conversations. Either way, delivering constructive criticism is necessary, especially while your employee is still learning and adjusting to their new role.
Once you’ve determined what their preferences for receiving feedback are, create a strategy for delivering praise and criticism, whether it be via a formal schedule or making an effort to acknowledge their efforts promptly.
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