Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Support vs. Structure for a New Hire


We all need support and structure for us to be productive. We need different degrees of them at different times.

One of the common mistakes we managers make in the first week of hiring someone new is that we do our best to get them excited about having joined our team. It makes sense, because we are excited to have new staff join our team, and perhaps also a bit nervous. To cover up our nervousness, we make sure that you are emotionally there for the new hire.

But it’s not what they want. While they appreciate your emotional support, they are already excited, though also a bit nervous. They are nervous about the big things and the little things: from what is the scope of the project that got mentioned during the interview to knowing the protocols for getting office supplies, but most of all, if they can be effective in this unfamiliar environment.

What they need is structure: concrete tasks, well-defined outputs, and deadlines…and in explaining the list of tasks, the motivation behind them, the vision that drives them.

Structure gets a bad rep, as if it’s something that kills creativity. It’s not. Without it, the creative energy will externally combust and produce something the company didn’t need, or internally combust, like a dog chasing its own tail, until they are dissatisfied (tuckered out from all that spinning and unable to do anything constructive or distressed that they just spent an enormous amount of energy on an impossible mission).

It’s hard to remember how we felt when we joined a new team, but it’s worth remembering because that’s how we can guide them most compassionately.

Plan their first week in detail, where they can work towards specific outputs they have to produce on a daily basis. End the week with a lunch or tea, where you can then show your emotional support by pouring their drink first.


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This entry was posted on April 7, 2015 by in Management and tagged , , .
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