How to Help a New Coworker Succeed

Being a new employee can be scary and intimidating. For starters, there are all those unanswered questions: What’s expected of me? Can I do the job? Will my coworkers and my boss like me, and will I like them? Is this a place where I can succeed?

“To help someone who is starting out in your company, remember how you felt on your first day. Was it a pleasant experience? If so, what made it that way? If not, were you treated in a way that increased your stress?” says Julie Alexander, C.S.P., founder and CEO of Great Days in Garland, Texas. “Very often, people feel welcome when they are included in little and big ways.”

Here are some things you can do to make a new employee feel welcome.

Facilitate friendships

Help a new staff member make friends because work friendships are an important factor in whether new employees stay with a company.

To help the person make connections with others, find out something interesting about him to say when making introductions to coworkers. He may have a hobby or interest that you or others also enjoy, or he could be from a far-off city or country.

Make sure your new coworker has someone to eat with at lunch time. Sitting alone in the employee cafeteria or going to a restaurant alone can be disheartening and lonely. Lunch is a great time to get acquainted with someone new.

“The new employee doesn’t have to be your new best friend, but should be treated with courtesy,” says Ms. Alexander. “Just keep in mind how you felt at the beginning.”

Help the person succeed

“Help a new employee get a handle on her job as quickly as possible because the faster you can help her get up to speed, the easier your job becomes,” advises Ms. Alexander.

Every company has its unique culture. So, if there are company traditions, buzzwords or procedures that a newbie might not know, explain them.

Be positive

“Don’t color the new person’s attitude with a negative paintbrush,” warns Ms. Alexander.

For example, you may be tempted to talk about a difficult colleague with the new employee. But Ms. Alexander advises you to bite your tongue and stop any temptation to gossip.

“Don’t bad-mouth a fellow coworker or your boss,” she says. “A new employee doesn’t need more things to worry about, and, your negative words about others may come back to haunt you.”


Because it’s easy to get overwhelmed with information, be patient. Reassure your coworker that she doesn’t have to learn everything the first day, and that things will be fine just as long as she keeps making progress.

“New employees need lots of encouragement because they’re in the midst of change,” Ms. Alexander reminds. “Praise the person often for progress and a good attitude.”

In addition, let the person know you’re available to answer any questions but don’t hover over him checking that he does every single detail correctly.


“It’s not easy to work with a new coworker and it may take several weeks until everyone feels comfortable and trusts the person will do the job correctly,” Ms. Alexander says. “However, when everyone offers friendship, patience and encouragement, the process goes much faster and everybody benefits.”

– Adapted from the University of Rochester

Master the Strategic Pause

p>Before you react to a stressful interruption, stop, take a deep breath, compose yourself and then think of a creative way to address the incident. “Sometimes, the most important thing that you need to be doing when confronted with an issue is to simply sit and think,” says Jeff Davidson, author of Breathing Space.

Once, when an audience member snapped a flash photo of Katherine Hepburn during a play, she paused for a few seconds and then stepped out of character as she moved to the front of the stage. She stared at the person and said: “How rude! How utterly rude!” and then immersed herself in the character again, taking everyone’s attention back with her.

Key: “She was the master of the strategic pause,” Davidson says. “She dealt with an acute stressor as it arose.” And by taking action she not only eliminated the further interruption but also allowed herself and the audience to put it behind them.

– Adapted from “Become the Master of Your Domain,” Jeff Davidson

Good Enough

Embrace ‘Good Enough’ Curb your perfectionist tendencies by embracing the principle of GEMO – the letters stand for “Good enough, move on.” fter all, you always could do more, but maximum productivity requires you to recognize when continuing to plug away on a project isn’t offering enough return on your time invested.

In some cases you can return to the project later, after you have cleared something else from your to-do list or gained fresh perspective. Other times, you just need to move on.

– Adapted from “Finding GEMO,” David Zinger


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