7 tips for managing a first jobber

Your team has a new member: a brand-new employee in their very first job. They may be a new graduate recruit, or an apprentice straight out of college or even school. You have been assigned as their manager. If you’re new to managing people, before you go power mad, bear in mind that it’s not just your newbie who’s being tested here – it’s you too.

This is your opportunity to develop the people management capability that will become more important as you progress in your career. To help you – and your new hire – get off to a great start, take these 7 tips.

1. Remember you were a first jobber once
What was it like for you? Could you remember everyone’s names and job titles by the end of your first week? How did you feel? Nervous, enthused, curious, overwhelmed, or rather confused? How well did your first boss help you get started? What did they do well and what do you – in hindsight – wish they’d done differently?
Tip: recall what it was like for you and use your insights to sketch out some DOs and DON’Ts to guide you.

2. Support their induction programme
Some employers find that their new first-job hires don’t show up for every module of their induction programme. A few enquiries later, it emerges that their manager asked them to do something else. When asked, many a manager had little or no idea that their newbie was meant to be at the tour of a major supplier (or whatever other element of their induction that was missed). Please don’t be that manager: your first jobber may have a) not had the nerve to tell you that they couldn’t do what you were asking them to because they needed to attend their induction, and/or b) thought what you were asking them to do would be more valuable.
Tip: ensure you have a copy of the full induction programme’s timetable – and make sure your new hire attends. Ask them who they met, what their impressions and key take-aways are.

3. Make introductions
Introduce your new starter to their immediate colleagues and steadily add the people they will be working with from the start, building up to key stakeholders. Use an organisation chart if you have one to help them figure out who does what and how it all fits together. Explain who’s involved and when on different stages of a project.
Tip: encourage your first jobber to build a ‘who’s who’ of this new and extensive cast of characters that they’ve joined.

4. Watch out for wellbeing
First jobbers can find the real world of work really tiring. The hours are longer than what they’ve probably been used to, there’s a great to deal to learn, tasks to get done – and there’s a lot at stake. They were probably feeling the pressure before they arrived for their first day. Add a host of deadlines and you could have a recipe for stress.
Tip: Seek advice from those who have authority to see if it’s OK to let someone leave early occasionally if they’re flagging. Set a positive example by taking breaks and working reasonable hours. Be available for 1:1s and catch-ups.

5. Mind the gaps
Your new hire will no doubt have gaps in their knowledge and skills. Filling these gaps may be covered in the induction programme, but it’s worth checking who you should turn to if your new colleague needs to master Excel, for example. There may be other essentials, such as learning legal and regulatory requirements that are mandatory to be able to do the job. Your employer may be a member of a professional association that provides continuous professional development.
Tip: seek guidance on what skills and knowledge are considered essential and find out what training your employer offers to close the gaps.

6. Beware banter
‘It was just harmless banter’ is heard in many an employment tribunal. Once upon a time, first jobbers could face a series of often humiliating practical jokes and colourful language, served up with peer pressure to join in and fit in. Workplaces are now waking up to the harm that bad behaviour can do. From casual remarks to physical intimidation, there’s a great deal of behaviour that was once shrugged off but is no longer acceptable, and possibly illegal.
Tip: set a good example and deal with any unacceptable behaviour immediately.

7. Chart progress
There’s so much for a new starter to take in, it can all become a blur, leading to uncertainty about whether they’re progressing – or even if they’re in the right job. Help your newbie to chart their progress as they grow, day by day.
Tip: check in with your colleague on a daily basis at first. Ask what they’ve learned and what questions they have. Encourage them to keep a learning log and take time with them each week to reflect on what’s gone well / not so well, what they’ve learned from experience and what actions they’ll take. Ask how you can best support them.


You may find these posts useful:

Managing for mental wellbeing

Stop dithering and start delegating


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’



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First day of work – @nadiabormotova – Depositphotos



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