The Buddy System – For Company’s New Hires

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Part of my job responsibilities was managing the new hire orientation for our department.   I devised a new employee orientation to help newcomers feel more confident  in those first  few confusing weeks, especially to achieve  a smooth transition in a new department.

Human Resources (HR) handled the company orientation involving the basics. The training department schedules the use of the company’s technological systems and software usage.   Our departmental orientation consisted of standards in our groups, interfaces with other departments and  the Buddy System.

The actual work detail is worked out by the department manager who provides on-hands training for the new hire’s responsibilities either by the previous incumbent or another same-function or level employee.   This experienced employee usually ‘sits’ with the new hire at his or her desk and goes over routine matters as well as functions of their new job.   This indoctrination can take place over a matter of hours or in an afternoon’s time.

On that first reporting day, I would go to HR to meet the new employee, welcome him to our department and walk him  them back to his manager.    If the manager had already met the employee and brought him to the department, I would do the following:

1]  Stop by that first day, introduce yourself, wish her luck, and invite her to a department orientation set up for that same week.  Tell her you will pick her up and return her to the workspace – that will help relieve any worry about where and how to get there.   Reserve a conference room for the orientation meeting, whether there is only one or more, to keep distractions at a minimum.

2]  At the orientation, explain the basic functions of the department, and answer any questions that arise.  As an option, offer the new guy or girl the opportunity to participate in the Buddy System.  The Buddy would be one of a group of employees within the department who volunteer to aid the new person in her new position.   Almost all new hires accept the offer.

You will do the ‘matching’  (by function, personality and experience) and introduce them, usually by invitation to have lunch with them.  The Buddy usually keeps close contact with the new hire for about a month; has lunch with him or her several times a week; and answers questions in person or by email or phone whenever the new hire needs it.   New employees usually have concerns over how long it will take to learn the job, if they are doing the job right, and who can they ask if they come to a standstill     The Buddy helps alleviate those concerns.

This system is great and highly recommended.   I  never had to interefere if a new hire relied too much on the Buddy.   Most of the questions asked  are on software issues, company questions or organizational levels. In many instances, the Buddy and new employee ended up being work buddies.

3]   Introduce her or him to the Training Department who will set up training for introduction to PC programs, software, phones, and other office machines.

4]  As administrator of career opportunities, I maintained a specialized department website with links to current projects and/or issues or commonly asked Q&A and an employee orientation link.  If your department has one, show the newcomer how to access it.   I kept all employees up to date on changes in personnel or revisions to procedures in the office, as well as resources and career opportunities, suggestions from them and/or comments on existing policies. This was well received and utilized,  and is an excellent resource for new persons.   Suggest that he keep a notebook of questions.

5]  Follow-up with the new employee at least once a week to make sure that the Buddy and he have connected and it is working. Sometimes job responsibilities keep a Buddy from being available; make adjustments if necessary.    Go over the notebook of questions and either help him or refer him to the right source.

6]  It is the rule of thumb that it takes about 6 months for a new person to feel comfortable and productive in their job.   These suggestions will help him or her feel more confident in learning their new job.

Marie Coppola   © Revised April 2015