Everyone remembers what it was like to be the new kid on the block, walking into the office on that first day and not knowing a single person. But many seem to forget that feeling when volunteers are sought to welcome the next rookie into the mix, says Matt Maloney.
Maloney, the managing shareholder at Maloney + Novotny LLC, says those who are leery of helping the next new guy or girl have neglected to look at the bigger picture.
“The more the young people grow, the more opportunity the older people have to move up,” Maloney says. “If you have someone to pass your work on to and who in their own right is successful, it generates more potential for success for everybody up the ladder. It makes their job easier going forward.”
As Maloney + Novotny has grown rapidly over the past year, from 60 to 110 employees, Maloney says a great deal of emphasis has been placed on making sure new employees feel as welcome as possible.
“It comes down to treating people right and getting them acclimated and comfortable in what they are doing,” Maloney says. “There are a lot of things happening. It is convenient to ignore the people coming in, but you just can’t do that. You need to spend that time, whether it’s the orientation or something else, to allow them to grow. Otherwise, you’re just cutting off your head.”
As often as possible, try to put new employees in clusters so they have someone to relate to who is going through some of the same fish-out-of-water circumstances that they are.
“People are in the exact same situation with them,” Maloney says. “It really does make it a lot easier for them. These are people that end up buddies, sometimes for life. They have someone who they can really talk to and run things by if they are not comfortable going to someone who is even older than them.”
Have an agenda for the new person or new group’s first day at the office. Critique the orientation soon afterward to figure out if anything was missed or anything should be included the next time or maybe left out. Bring in people who served as mentors, people who went through the orientation process as a new employee and anyone else who can help make future orientations work better.
“We have multiple champions of the different areas,” Maloney says. “What did we miss? What other information would be helpful for them?”
The key thing to remember is that you never get another chance to make a first impression.
“If they start off on the wrong foot, it’s tough to get them back in the right mode,” Maloney says. “People may get disengaged. It’s like anything else. The first impression makes the biggest difference off the bat.”
A mentor should not hover over the person whom he or she is assisting to the point that it becomes burdensome.
“But we still want the older buddy to continue that access on an ongoing basis so that these guys get more comfortable,” Maloney says.
The goal is to make such a good connection with your new people that a year later, they will be ready and able to volunteer to help the next new batch of recruits.
“We’re looking for that first-year person who is now a young buddy to next year be the mentor in the buddy system,” Maloney says. “We want these people to grow up. For the most part, it’s younger staff with even younger staff. It’s not our managers and supervisors because they may not be able to communicate as well or those younger people may not be as comfortable with them.”
How to reach: Maloney + Novotny LLC, (216) 363-0100 or www.maloneynovotny.com
Make it matter
Employees who see their role in mentoring as a step to their own growth in the business will be much more likely to take part, says Bill Beaufait, a shareholder at Maloney + Novotny LLC.
“Everybody has goals here,” Beaufait says. “Part of their goal setting is to bring people along. It affects their compensation and it affects their ability to grow within the firm. We compensate people very well for doing what we want them to do.”
Job specifics are one vital area where mentors can assist newcomers in getting familiar with their jobs. But it’s other things such as cultural changes and new technology where younger people can often play a crucial role in helping your firm.
“As you get older, you get more and more removed from the detailed work at the clients’ offices,” Maloney says. “We spend a lot of time with our young people trying to identify what needs our clients have because they are out there. Our personnel are constantly out at clients, so it’s important to have a great attitude about the firm’s capabilities and the firm’s clients. Our involvement with our personnel fosters that. It’s important they feel good about the job and good about themselves. It comes across to our clients.”