How Mentors Can Help New Employees Get Up to Speed

“Onboarding,” “orientation,” “assimilation,” “integration.” Call it whatever you’d like. It’s about helping the newly hired— in this case, finance and accounting employees — adjust to an unfamiliar department or team.

The first day, two, 30 or 90 on the job take some breaking in, and it can help to have a friendly, familiar face around the office. But the multipronged orientation process can really involve a variety of different approaches and is applicable to many industries and professions.

As part of my onboarding when I started with Robert Half, I was paired with the company’s now assistant controller, who also sits on my floor and served as my mentor, as well as a senior communications manager. Related methods are addressed by our CEO Max Messmer in his book, Human Resources Kit For Dummies, 3rd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

Synching with someone who's been there

Whether you call the person “Brian” or “Beatrice,” “Jack” or “Jill,” it’s about syncing with someone or multiple employees who have more than a few years under their belt at your company to answer questions, review your work, or just shadow and not say anything at all. It really requires more than the “Just follow Joe around” approach.

Perhaps it’s someone you go out to lunch with once a month, someone who provides you structured FASB and GAAP reading materials, or you refill your coffee cups at the same time in the break room while discussing the company’s current finance issues.

Mentor or mentee — it's good for all

However it stacks up, both parties often benefit; it can provide exposure to the emerging pool of talent or new technologies for the mentor and help with retention and performance efforts of the mentee. It can also help to develop future company leaders and increase collaboration across different generations in the workforce.

In my case, my mentor and I immediately bonded over a corporate accounting class I was taking to finish my MBA, Robert Half’s Benchmarking the Finance Function report and running the trails near where we both live. I turned to him to review materials and gain insight into the mind of a financial statements master.

It turns out my mentor likes the Oregon State Beavers, and I’m a die-hard University of Oregon Duck fan. But it also gives us something to talk about come college football season.

Not every mentor-mentee relationship has these odds, however. It’s important to make sure there are clear instructions and careful selection of which person the new employee follows around. Steps like these will help to ensure onboarding success.

More about onboarding and mentoring

Tags: Mentoring