If you’ve been running your own business for a number of years, it’s probably been quite a while since you were the ‘newbie’?  Can you remember how it felt? Can you remember your first impressions?

Seeing your business through the eyes of a new member of staff can be a very levelling, as well as an extremely valuable, experience.


Here’s a short story to illustrate:

Sidney the Snail started working for Flutterby two months ago.  Flutterby are a long-established family firm of butterflies, providing flights to non-winged insects and Sidney is their first non-family employee. (If you’ve not read about his recruitment, I hope you will make a short detour to look at Fluttering Rights).

This is what Sidney wrote down about his first impressions of Flutterby:

Well, it is rather different, that’s for sure – they all seem to know what’s going on, but never stay still long enough for me to ask more than one question at a time!  Frankly, I’m used to a much slower pace. Nothing is written down and everyone is far too busy to explain anything.  However, they did make me feel welcome by finding a cool, dark, damp corner to work in and I’m also allowed to help myself to their lettuces at lunch time!

I haven’t even met all my work colleagues yet!  Although I have spent a little bit of time with Petal (who used to do my job), she’s desperate to start flying again with her other brothers and sisters – so I feel I’m a nuisance.  I do think she feels a bit guilty for leaving things in such a pickle!

It’s certainly going to be a challenge – what is frustrating is that I know I can help them and even save them lots of money.  I’m worried that they won’t like some of my proposed changes, that is if they stay still long enough for me to explain anything to them!

Flutterby meant well, but they didn’t think about how they would help Sidney settle in their Company, other than where he would sit and what he would eat! Sidney was recruited because he had the very skills and experience that the Company lacked, but they did not take time to prepare for his arrival or consider his different working requirements.  Preparing a short induction programme would have helped Sidney:

• Learn about the Company, its aims and objectives

• Understand the Company’s way of working

• Meet all his fellow colleagues

• Understand how best to communicate with others

• Understand how his role fitted into the Company

• Discuss the job role in more detail

• Contribute to the Company much more quickly

The next time you take on a new member of staff, make sure you plan for their arrival and don’t be afraid to ask them for their first impressions.  Finally, always remember to seek feedback on your induction methods and how the process could be further developed and improved.

Please feel free to share any ‘new employee’ stories or experiences in the space below.

For practical ideas, checklists and help with induction programmes, just drop a quick email to: kay@kayhealdhr.co.uk

Look out for Sidney’s Solution early next year: Sidney finds out how to introduce his new systems to Flutterby, with a bit of professional HR help!

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