Mentoring new employees is a must as the first few months are the most critical for new hires. Studies have consistently shown that a significant percentage of employees who leave an organization do so within the first 90 to 120 days. Starting on day one, it is nice for new employees to have a mentor that shows them the ropes and answers questions as they arise. By mentoring new employees, you reduce the chances of them becoming unhappy or even leaving the company, which will ultimately save the company time and money.
In The Great Employee Handbook, author and Studer Group founder Quint Studer outlines 10 tips on mentoring new employees, increasing their job satisfaction and helping them develop into quality contributors at your organization.
1. If you can, get involved during the interview process.
Building coworker/peer relationships begins during the interview phase. If your organization does not currently have a peer interviewing process, we recommend working with your hiring manager to implement one. “When given the opportunity to interview a potential new hire, employees take a greater interest and sense of ownership in that person’s success.”
2. Ask key questions early on.
If you are able, ask a new hire to lunch within their first one to two weeks. Take this one-on-one time to get to know your new coworker in and outside of the office. Find out how they like to work with coworkers, their expectations for the new position, what they do in their free time. “Most importantly, ask what you can do to help them be successful…make sure they know that if they ever need a helping hand, you’re more than willing to help out.”
3. Help the new hire integrate into the company culture.
“Ask the new hire if they would be okay with you providing advice when you see them doing something that doesn’t serve them well—or not doing something that could benefit them in the company.” Maybe the new employee isn’t practicing the standard for internal memos or not following the dress code. This would be an opportune time to lend a hand and share with them. Make sure the employee knows that while they do not have to follow your advice explicitly, you’re happy to help in any way that you are able. “You may event want to note any challenges you experienced when you first started with the company so they feel at ease discussing those issues with you.”
4. Think of yourself as a role model.
“Telling the new employee what to do (and what not to do) isn’t nearly as powerful as showing them by example. Make sure to follow all company policies and standards when you’re around them.” You know the standards of behavior for your company better than the new hire, so be sure to model the work ethic, communication techniques and other best practices that they will need in order to thrive within your organization. “What you demonstrate is almost always more impactful than what you say.”
5. Resist the temptation to “do it for them.”
High-performing leaders know they really can do a task more quickly and effectively and it’s easy to let new employees just observe. However, the best way for employees to learn and grow their skills is to complete tasks themselves—no matter how long it may take or how many errors they might make—with coaching and support from their leader.
6. Share all the information required to do the best job.
Sometimes when giving information to a new employee, we share the “short version” of how to do a job. Maybe this is because we want to protect our “expert” status. However, this isn’t beneficial to either of you when mentoring new employees. “Make sure you’re not subconsciously holding onto critical information because you fear not being the expert. Being good at what you do is great…helping others be good at what they do is even better.”
7. Be a friend.
You can almost guarantee that the new hire is comparing the first few weeks with your company to their last week at their previous job. Normally, during an employees last week of work there is some sort of going away party complete with cake, well wishes and fond memories.
So, new employees might be wishfully comparing that final experience to this new one where no one knows them and there isn’t any cake or fond memories. It’s possible that many people do not even know their name. That is why it’s the opportune time to “make an effort to not only show the new employee the ropes of the business side of the workplace, but to also make sure they’re included socially.” Including new coworkers into social activities such as casual Fridays, free breakfast Tuesdays or happy hour on Thursdays can go a long way in making them feel part of the team.
8. Share tips.
Obviously your new coworker wants to be great in their job, provide great service and go the extra mile. So, help them do that! Provide insight that you have to help the new employee succeed. Whether it’s sharing how certain customers like to be handled or communicated with or tidbits of information on other employees favorites, any information you share that will help the new employee build relationships will be very helpful.
9. Set the new hire up for a successful relationship with the boss.
Typically, your boss is probably already working to form a relationship with the new hire. However, there are still many ways you can assist in this area. Just as you shared tips with the new employee about customers and other coworkers, provide helpful hints on how to best handle the boss as well. “For example, explain how much the boss values receiving ideas from employees on how to improve the company and that they respond well to those who take initiative to increase their level of responsibility… By showing the new hire the ropes, you can help them not only feel more comfortable but also form a relationship with the boss that allows them to truly thrive at the organization.”
10. Remember, patience is a virtue.
It’s important to remember that new hires have a lot on their plates as they’re learning to navigate a completely different culture and how best to do their job in a new environment. New employees are going to make mistakes. Use these mistakes as learning opportunities. When you’re mentoring new employees, they might ask a lot of questions and you might have to explain things more than once. Be patient. You yourself were once new, too. “Be their guide, be their sounding board, and provide them with the information they need to hit the ground running—straight toward long-term success at your organization.”