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Assisting New Hires: Senior Employees’ Role in Facilitating Workplace Integration


[Last week’s column collected insights on how new graduates and novice workers can avoid straying from the unwritten rules of the workplace. This week, I’m concentrating on the opposite side of the equation, sharing stories from readers on how senior colleagues can establish new hires for success. While “attend all the meetings” and “introduce yourself around” are reliable advice for new hires, it’s also the responsibility of established workers and managers to facilitate those efforts. Welcome lunches are a great start, but that’s asking someone who’s already juggling a new schedule, learning new tasks, and trying to figure out the bathroom, to also remember a bunch of new people out of context.

Smaller one-on-one interactions with people in their day-to-day setting can help sort and settle the jumble of names, faces, and titles into a mental org chart. Especially in hybrid and remote work environments, arranging meetups and video conversations can be a lifesaver.

And it doesn’t have to be just the people they’ll be reporting to and working alongside: Introduce them to people they may have something in common with and might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet.

Work Advice: Worried about meeting co-workers at your new all-remote job? Here are some tips.

“When I first started my career, my new supervisor took me all over the building to meet everyone in a leadership position even though I would not need to interact with some of them,” Maura Hanning of Laramie, Wyo., said in an email. “This gave me buy-in to the entire organization and a bigger sense of how all the parts worked together to meet the goals of the organization.”

Jill Anderson of Chicago received the best welcome gift I can imagine: “The person most responsible for my hiring presented me with a day-planner on my first day. She had pre-scheduled meetings and lunches with key personnel for me over my first two weeks,” Anderson said in an email.

Managers in my previous column said they welcome questions from newbies — but it’s also important to invite answers. As an experienced 50-something employee in the first staff meeting of her new career, Karen Buglass of Rockville appreciated it when a colleague turned and asked her directly, “What do you think?”

“That set the tone for my opinion being valued and encouraged me to contribute from day one,” said Buglass in an email. “I had a bit of experience behind me … to know how generous and important that gesture was.”

Create the resources you wish you’d had

Experienced workers can easily forget their early struggles and obstacles. Employees who have just gotten settled themselves can provide some of the most relevant and practical support to new hires by filling in gaps that tripped them up.

As a civilian employee in a military command, Lisa Hunter of Huntsville, Ala., found herself overwhelmed trying to keep track of all the acronyms her command used — so she created and continually updates a dictionary of acronyms. “When I meet new people in the command, they usually mention trying to learn the acronyms. I send them our dictionary! It helps them get settled and starts a strong work relationship,” Hunter said in an email.

Work Advice: Does this new hire need coaching, or am I just biased?

Commenters on my last column seemed incredulous that even a new adult would need to be told to dress conservatively and use formal language in work emails. Similarly, I find it hard to believe professional adults need to be told not to yell at other professional adults who are trying to learn the job. And yet.

Karen Moore of Madison, Wis., recounted via email an entry-level job in which the staff bookkeeper replied to every question with a resounding, “Gaahhh! I don’t know how ANYONE could be so STUPID not to know THAT!” Financially unable to walk away from the job, Moore endured and eventually won over the volatile veteran.

Still, she wrote, “I know that I could have produced much more work of a much higher quality that first year if I had just been able to get answers to my questions instead of being screamed at.”

Other “don’t-dos” are less obvious — and may even seem at first like a helpful solution.

Kristin Watson, an attorney in Iowa City, said that when she was hired as the first female associate at a small legal firm, partners at the firm privately advised her to come to them if she had any trouble with “Dave,” a senior partner with “a reputation for driving paralegals and support staff to tears.”

No doubt the partners were trying to protect Watson by warning her about their cantankerous colleague. (Why they tiptoed around him like a “missing stair,” instead of counseling him on not being a dingus, is a question for another column.)

But when Watson received her first assignment from Dave, “He looked at me and said, ‘You’ve probably heard I’m an ogre. I’m not, I just hate sloppiness. Don’t be sloppy, and I won’t be an ogre.’”

As it turned out, Dave’s bluntness about his reputation did more for Watson’s security than his peers’ solicitous skulking. “His honesty set up one of the best working relationships I ever had, where I knew exactly where I stood,” Watson said.

Years later, knowing Dave’s triggers, Watson offered to withdraw from managing a trial because she was going through a harrowing family situation that she feared would affect her performance. Dave “responded that I was a professional and he had every confidence I could manage the trial, but he was glad I had been honest,” Watson said in an email. Her takeaways: “1) Judge for yourself” and “2) Honesty really is the best policy.”

Reader query: Do you work in an office that uses “hoteling” instead of assigned workspaces? What has your experience been? Let me know at

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