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Mentoring New Hires for Success

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Getting a new hire up to speed is a delicate balance between giving them too much information and responsibility too quickly and not properly challenging them during their first days on the job. This "infancy" period is critical in setting the tone and establishing on the job expectations.

While most businesses have orientation procedures in place, properly mentoring hires sets a foundation that goes deeper than uniform rules and regulations. When the Gallup Organization identified the elements a group of highly successful people in Dallas shared, they learned that the common theme was they all developed around successful people. A knowledgeable mentor can speak to specific needs that individuals have and pace communication so it gets absorbed properly. Here are some of the ways mentors for new hires can help to build the foundation for future success.

Bring Out the Basics
A good mentor begins by covering the basics — making appropriate introductions and explaining how systems work. They recognize they are there to help protégés gain experience by clarifying and immersing them in their role within the company. "It's never too early to help a new hire map out their career within an organization," says HR Coordinator Rachel Kubert. "Giving concrete examples of people up the ladder who worked their way to the top is a great motivator." In addition, effective mentors aid protégés when it comes to being involved with projects that will be crucial to their growth.

Give Them Culture
Social miscues are bound to happen when you're the new kid on the block, but Kubert says that a mentor can foster confidence. "When someone takes the time to personally show a newbie how things function, they feel trusted and valued." It also drives home a sense of personal responsibility when office members are policing themselves. Little things mean a lot and this applies to a workplace's culture as well. "Often, what is not covered in employee handbooks can be just as key as what is in there," says Kubert. "Knowing the ins and outs of company culture — things like, are employees expected to stay late or take lunch at their desks? — can save you time and face."

Make it a Two Way Street
You have experience in the department and you're sharing your knowledge and wisdom. Your protégé is asking questions and giving you feedback. The only component you could be missing in the mentoring process is learning yourself. Former GE Chairman Jack Welch made the concept of "reverse mentoring" popular when he told his managers to partner with younger workers to learn about the Internet. Those Gen Yers who are soaking up your words of wisdom may be able to help get you up to speed with new technologies. Ask a new hire what his or her former organization did well and be prepared to learn while you teach.

Great Expectations
Development depends on mentors and one of the most valuable messages they can convey to new hires is what is expected of them. "Being specific about what you expect someone to accomplish isn't enough," Kubert points out. "You need to tie in individual goals with the organization's overall goals." This eases some of the pressure on new employees because they realize they are on a team working toward common goals. Simultaneously, it motivates them because they don't want to let their new teammates down.

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