Adventures in Direct Reports

Frog sugar cookies, one piece of a welcome gift that we give new hires. August 2013.

In recent months, FrogDog has added a few new team members, some of whom report directly to me.

I see direct reports as a serious responsibility.

Managers hold responsibility for direct reports’ work, success, and professional development. Good managers mentor, champion, train, and challenge. They carefully hire for skills and cultural fit. They ensure that their company gains from each staff member—and that each staff member gains from their company.

New direct reports? Stressful.

You need to set newbies up for success from the start. To make that happen, I’ve developed a few best practices:

Before Arrival

  • Call the workday before. Reiterate your enthusiasm. Give guidance on workplace attire. Remind him about arrival times. Outline what to expect.
  • Desk prep. His computer should work and have everything he needs. Ensure his workspace is clean and has basic office supplies.
  • Set up e-mail. Start copying him on e-mail that concerns his areas of involvement and adding him to pertinent meetings.
  • Send a welcome note. E-mail the entire staff, telling them a little about the newbie and his role.

The First Day

  • Front-door hello. Plan to be in the lobby for a personal greeting.
  • Block the day. Keep your schedule flexible to be available for needs and questions.
  • Introductions. Give him an office tour and introduce him to the staff.
  • Morning pow-wow. Review the week ahead and his to-dos. Ensure he has what he needs to get started.
  • Set to-dos. Everyone wants to impress on day one—although it’s hard to contribute without much background. Provide simple, achievable tasks relevant to his new role.
  • Team lunch. Take the newbie to lunch. Include the team with which he’ll work, if possible.
  • End-of-day meeting. Sit down for at least half an hour at the end of the day to see how it went, allow for questions, and set expectations for day two.

The First Week

  • Review the 30-60-90. Go over what you expect from the newbie in his first thirty, sixty, and ninety days on the job.
  • Morning check-ins. Every morning, see if he has any questions or concerns. Talk through what’s ahead for the day and the rest of the week.
  • Teambuilding. Encourage other staffers to include him in informal lunches, happy hours, and impromptu breaks.
  • Temperature-take. At the end of his first week, see how it went. How did he feel about week one? How could you help him get up to speed more quickly? What does he need to succeed? What can he expect for week two?

What other best practices should I add to my list?