Monthly Archives: April 2015

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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

imagesP71JMS2YWho hasn't felt the nervousness and apprehension from walking into an office for the first time - Day One of New Job?   Unfamiliar territory, strange faces, and an overall feeling of trepidation in what lies ahead can cause some anxiety or stress.

It's important for a company, too, to plan and aid their new hire.  For both their benefits , it's a wise decision.

Many companies, through Human Resource (HR) departments, offer a standard new hire orientation for new employees. This orientation is usually given first thing in the morning on the first day reporting on the job. Benefit packages, the company's annual report, booklets covering any subsidiary site locations and contacts are distributed. In addition, the company's organizational charts, holiday schedules, cafeteria hours, banking procedures, or any specialized on-site service is offered.

These orientations are a positive addition for the 'new kid on the block' to become familiar with the company's rules, regulations, programs and benefits. And that's just the company information!

Added to this, is the equipment Ms. Smith has to learn to do her job. It may be a different PC and software than what she is familiar with. Getting familiar with the voice-mail system, the fax system, duplication and office services and how and what procedures are required to utilize them.  The Training department can set up programs to explain all the new equipment that  the newcomer will be using.

Companies usually have standards regarding inside mail, outside mail, logos, forms, keeping logs or assigning cost center numbers and numerous other company requirements.

The big adjustment yet to be made will be the department in which he will be working. Chances are he has already met the manager who handled the interview along with some members of the department. An HR rep will probably guide him to the manager's office or someone will come to HR to welcome him.

Once there, it's up to the departmental manager how introductions to staff will commence. Some managers will bring him or her around personally and make introductions or leave that up to the supervisor. It is recommended that the manager or supervisor write a short memo (or email) that Mr. or Ms. Smith has joined the company, what department the new member will be working in, their title, immediate supervisor and a short summary of the function of the work they will be performing.

Another short paragraph is sometimes included giving some background on the new hire; for example, educational or degree(s), brief work experience and/or past titles, along with some personal aspect regarding family status, hobbies, and/or member associations. This letter should be sent to the department staff in the first few days of the new employee's starting date and can foster a communication with co-workers.

It is not surprising, when someone is unhappy with their job, they sometimes stay where they are rather than deal with or cope with having to 'start all over and learn a brand new company's requirements and regulations'.   These factors in addition to what responsibilities and tasks they will do!

We haven't even addressed  that -  the function of the job and how the new hire learns it.  Or what he does when he gets overwhelmed or can't remember somebody's name.   And how to get back to his cubicle after a trip to a meeting.   Or who the players are and if they are in his department or someone else's. How does an employer address all these areas?

In my next article, I will list 5 steps a company can take to ensure a smooth transition for the newcomer including a "Buddy System' devised to do just that.

Marie Coppola      ©   Revised April 2015


(Part 1 - Tips 1 through 5)

6) If your office surroundings are efficient-situated.....which usually means a phone, PC, desk, and chair in a cubicle with only enough room to turn around in. You will hear others' conversations on the phone and normal business interchanges during the day. Most office workers tune out these distractions, but it's hard to tune out loud or noisy social gatherings or constant social talking on the phones and/or laughing. A certain amount of sociability is expected in the office, but if you constantly stop at someone's station and gab or allow someone to come to yours and do the same, someone is going to complain about the 'noise'. And if you're new, you don't want to start off with that image.

If someone lingers, you might just say, that you need to get something done and you'll 'see them later'. Don't socialize more than you have to at work. You're there to do a job, not listen to someone's problems or the great time they had at a party last night. Or to talk on the phone with personal calls or send zany emails. Companies monitor both calls and PCs, so be careful what you say and write.

7) Every office has a Don Juan Casanova or Flirty Tease who will try to engage you somehow. They can't help it - it's in their genes. Be friendly, but keep your distance. The more time you give them, the more time they will devote to hanging around you. Be busy, and they will finally move on to the next new person. Don't be flattered or taken in; you are one of many.

8) Keep wearing to work the kind of clothes you wore on the interview. Now that you have the job, you don't want to slip out of your good shoes and wear athletic shoes and sweats to the office. Most offices have dress codes which as 'business attire' or 'business casual' is a suit or pants, shirt and tie for men and suits, dresses, or pants outfits for women.

Leave the décolletage necklines home as well as stretch pants that reveal all. Jeans may be allowed on 'Casual Day' but don't wear them on any other day. The saying goes "Dress for the job you want to have" and that's pretty good advice. Good grooming and neat appearance go a long way in the office. You never know who is going to stop in the office that day or what meeting your boss may ask you to attend in his or her place.

9) Never discuss with your co-workers how much money you make or what your bonus was or the percentage of your merit raise. Salary levels are the same for most positions, but other factors may reflect different salaries for you and the person next to you who do the same kind of work. That person may have more advanced education or a degree that requires a specialty in their work or they may have been given a larger starting salary than you if they had more experience.

Sometimes an employee is not given extra money for the same work you both do, but may have been given an extra week vacation as a negotiation factor in employing them for less pay than what they were getting. There are many variables in salaries and it's only going to cause stress if workers compare salaries. Avoid this upset -- don't ask and don't tell.

10) As a new employee, you will need to find out about the company your work for in a short amount of time. Read the annual report and study the organizational charts. Find out where people sit so you aren't wandering around the building, getting flustered and nervous. Tread lightly until you know the waters. Put your best foot forward, as they say, and you will be an asset to the company you work for - and be rewarded as such.

Marie Coppola ©  Revised April 2015


I am a grey, black and white tabby who was adopted when I was one year old by my persons – a newly retired man and a woman about to retire.   She was a pushover – she saw an adoption ad about me at work and brought me home; he was my nemesis although she adopted me for him because he retired.    She was an animal lover and fussed over me; his first words about me were “He can’t come into the house”.  He didn't  believe in sharing a house with animals.   “Animals belong outside”.  

I was an outdoor cat and loved being outdoors – I really didn’t want to come into the house.  They had a grand garden complete with multiple nests of vulnerable chipmunks.  I would catch them by the scuff of their necks and dangle them in from of her.   She hollered at me and I had to let them go.  There was a wonderful birdhouse where I could wait patiently to catch birds who gathered  to eat dropped birdseed.   She said, “How come Mrs. Cardinal isn’t with Mr. Cardinal, today?”   And He quietly but sternly said to me, “I saw you – you can never do that again.  She liked that bird.”

I knew whom I had to overcome.

When a coyote attacked me one day in this beautiful garden, the couple brought me to the vet.  The vet charged them $500 and said “If you like this cat, you need to make him an inside cat.”  She agreed but He said “Animals don’t belong in the house – he can go into the basement.” 

Living in the basement wasn’t bad.  It was warm and cozy and I was allowed upstairs to sleep on the sofa only if He let me sleep on top of his stomach.   “No sleeping on the furniture” he would proclaim.  The sofa was leather and I was allowed to keep  my nails, so that was OK.   I really had my eye on the bed in the front guest room with the big window.  I'm patient.  

When She wasn’t around,  He told me “No jumping on counters or the tables; no scratching furniture or rugs.  No sleeping alone on sofa or in bedrooms.  Animals don’t belong in houses.”   

She was a pushover; She let me sleep anywhere I wanted.  But I had to win him over.  It could turn out to be a good deal.  Plus, I was curious why She was so easy and He was so hard.  

Then He had a hip replacement.   He had to rest a lot and not move around for a while.   This was my long-awaited opportunity.   Patience runs in my family.   I watched him with my soulful, sad, beautiful green eyes.  (She told me how beautiful they were).  He would pat his stomach and I would jump up and cozy up to his neck while putting my paw around his shoulder.   She would say, “The cat is comforting you.” He would fall asleep and I revved up my purring.  

Not long after, He was in the garden again, and I was jumping around after him.  He gave me a name – He called me Compagno – sounds like ‘Goombah’ – She told me that meant companion or partner or friend.   He started to like me! 

They took me on vacations and sometimes they left me at home with a pet sitter.  One vacation while they were away, there was a forest fire in the woods behind us and the pet sitter could not get near the house.  I was really frightened.  Alone.  Lots of smoke and ashes outside.  A kind neighbor had the key and came by to get me – the neighborhood was being evacuated.   My persons came home two weeks later and I felt strange and different.   I was still scared and slept rolled up in a ball in the corner of a room for six months.   I did not jump on my persons’ laps or want to do anything but sleep and eat.    I had lost 3 pounds.  I ended up with diabetes.    

My persons took me to the vet who said I had been traumatized and needed insulin shots twice a day.   My woman cringed, but He took over my care – giving me shots twice a day.  He was so attentive to me, that I could sit by the refrigerator 'shot site’ at my given times and He would always be there on time to administer to me.  

When I started to feel better, I jumped up one day onto his stomach and purred loudly and they both cheered.  I purred louder.   When I gained my weight back and ate my high protein food, I was feeling good again.  I slept in my comfy cat bed by the fireplace. But one night, He whisked me up and brought me into their forbidden bedroom.   He put me at the foot of the bed and said, “He can sleep here.”  

And I still sleep there today – I’m 16 years old now – 90 in person years.   I’m high in their routine – we eat at the same time, I sleep on their laps while they sit in the living room, and He still picks me up to bring me to bed.   He gives me my shots, trims my nails, changes my kitty litter, brings me for my check-ups, has me blessed at church on St. Francis animal-blessing day, and makes sure my stash of insulin, special high-protein diet, catnip and fresh water are in place every day.   He’s even added glucosamine for cats because I was walking arthritic-like.    I feel GREAT.    He’s my BFF.   My Compagno.

The woman loves me like her baby – she cuddles me and talks to me all the time.   I wake up in the morning next to her and she cuddles me.  I don't show favoritism.  I fall asleep at night next to my Compagno and he puts his arm around me.   I follow the sun around the rooms during the day and bask in its warmth on the guest beds.    

He even put in a special pet door in the sliding door for me so I can go to my outside ‘apartment’ on the enclosed porch and get fresh air.  I have my own freshly-grown catnip plant at my disposal.  They speak to me lovingly like I’m their child.  I love my life.  

He used to say, “He can’t come into the house.”  And, now, I own it.   And have 2 servants.   I purr a lot – --just to think --- I have eight more lives to live.

Marie Coppola  October 2019

A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.        Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

You finally landed that job you were praying you would get, and Monday is here and it's your first day.  Here are some tips to help you 'settle in' your new surroundings with confidence and a positive attitude, along with some cautions.

1) Try to arrive at work at least 10 or 15 minutes before the normal working hours. This not only gives you time to settle in, turn your computer on, or listen to voice mail messages. It also gives you a relaxed frame of mind for friendly good mornings instead of rushing in at the last minute or a few minutes late and get a reputation for 'always being late'.

Employees who arrive before the workday begins are usually the ones who get good reviews and/or promotions. Likewise advice on leaving at the end of the day. Plan on staying 15 minutes or so after work if possible; never leave early - someone always loves to make an issue about that and the reputation will stick; the people who usually get ahead in a workplace arrive a little earlier and leave a little later.

2) Start the new job with a To Do List. This List itemizes tasks that may have been sent to you via email, voicemail or verbally. Jot it down so it is not forgotten and when you have a few minutes, prioritize the List by importance. If you don't get to it all that day, start the next day's List with the undone items so they can have first attention. Keep a file folder with the checked-off 'Done' items, date they were completed, with any information that may needed in the future for follow-up.

Not only do 'To Do' Lists give you a reputation for getting things done, they also give you a feeling of accomplishment as you go over the list and view the things you did that day. On a hectic and busy day, those accomplishments will help neutralize the feeling that you 'got nothing done today'.

3) Go slow getting to know your new co-workers. In your 'being new' nervousness, you may reveal more about yourself than you really want to. You may be telling your life history to the office gossiper. If you are asked to lunch with the group, be neutral to everyone, polite and friendly. The work environment is revealed at lunchtime, and you will hear inside scoops of what is going on with work, projects and people.

Don't make judgments or remarks. Wait until you get to know the people and the issues and even then, don't make judgments or remarks. And don't repeat what you hear at lunch or in the halls to your cubicle co-workers. Gossip spreads through offices faster than forest fires. And your name will be attached to it.

4) Go to lunch at your appointed lunch time and take the one-half hour or whatever the rule is. Some companies allot 45 minutes or one hour for lunch. Long-time employees may stretch their lunch times from the one-half hour lunch to a 45 minute or one hour lunch. That's their choice, but as a new employee, you don't want to get a reputation that you 'take long lunches'. It's a title that you may earn quickly and it will stick with you. Your supervisor will know about it sooner than you think.

Co-workers usually stagger lunch times so that someone is always in the office, and you will get off on the wrong foot in your office if someone is waiting for you to come back from lunch and you're late and taking time away from their own lunch.

5) Start off your new job with a team attitude. There are different ways to help someone out even if it is picking up their mail or copy order at office services. Your helpfulness will reflect back from your co-workers who will do the same for you. This becomes invaluable on a really busy day when you need an extra set of hands; kindness goes a long way and people react positively to it.

When someone turns their back on being a team player with the rest of the group, the group usually reacts in the same manner.  A first good impression of a newcomer usually casts a lasting reflection of him or her them for future work experience.

More tips for new hires to be continued in Part 2

Marie Coppola   ©  Revised April 2015

Image result for child stealing

I was a bonafide thief at age 6.   Although learning at home that we did not take things from our siblings unless given permission didn't sound like stealing in my small world.   I didn't do things like that.  No one in our family did.

At least not until my first grade teacher, Mrs. Eckland, taught us many things that  she wrote on the blackboard.  She used different, pretty-colored chalks and left them on the bottom ledge when she was done.  She taught us math in one color and writing using the Palmer method in another color , and English in another.   The ledge was along the wall where we lined up each afternoon to be dismissed to go home.  The pretty colored chalk made a rainbow along the ledge - I had never seen colored chalk before - I only knew the white variety.   In my small mind, I figured if a chalk piece was  very small compared to other bigger pieces, Mrs. Eckland probably just threw them away anyway and I could help her keep the ledge clean if I took them home.

Even at 6 years old,  we neighborhood kids all wrote and drew pictures on every unmarked slate sidewalk.  It wasn't hard to imagine what beautiful pictures I could make with the many different hues - pink, yellow, green, blue, violet -- just sitting there waiting to be creative.  I was careful not to be seen picking up the chalk and furtively stuffing it into my pocket - always picking up the smallest ones, thinking they would not be missed.   I was very sneaky about it.

In a few months, I had my glass jar at home almost filled to the top and couldn't wait until I made some sidewalk masterpieces.   I hadn't yet, because something inside me (my young conscience maybe?) made me hide the chalk jar from my family.

One day after school, my 10 year-old sister, who was making her First Holy Communion decided to give her younger sister (me) a dissertation on the 10 Commandments.   She went through them and explained each one, and when she got to the 8th one, Thou Shalt Not Steal, I was all ears.   When I asked her 'what is stealing?',  she explained it could be cheating on tests, or taking something that belonged to someone else, keeping it and not returning it.  Yikes!  That was me!

The chalk jar ceased to be a treasure to me.  I didn't want them anymore.   I didn't know what to do with them; and became much worried that my mother would find it and have me arrested.  Or worse, tell  Mrs. Eckland who might cry and not like me anymore.  Maybe I couldn't go to school anymore and I loved school!  Since no one knew I had taken - yes STOLEN them - I had all this chalk; I had to find a way to bring them back.

And I did.   The next day and every day thereafter, I would bring back a couple of pieces and take them stealthily from my pocket and leave them on the ledge like they were hot coals.   Sometimes, I would leave 3 or 4 at a time, never, ever thinking that Mrs. Eckland could have been very aware of the extra tiny chalks left in the same place on the ledge every day.   She never said anything.

In a few weeks, the chalk was all returned, I threw the jar away, and vowed never to steal again.  And I never did.  The feeling of relief that I was cleared was wonderful until my sister taught me next that when people sinned against the Commandments, they had to go to confession and tell the priest.   Oh no, I thought!   He'll think I'm a crook.  He might tell my parents and they'll put me in a home for bad children.  Despair rose up in me again - but then she explained that when one was my age it wasn't a sin yet if they didn't know better.    Whew.   But now I knew.

(C) Marie Coppola.

Revised December 2017


I Will

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend... I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.
I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 & 70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love... I will.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 & 70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love... I will. I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.

They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore...I've even earned the right to be wrong.
So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.

And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).

Anonymous  - from an email


Marie Coppola     April 2015



Dear Jesus,

On the  Thursday before Easter Sunday, you agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane awaiting your destiny of rejection, torture, humiliation and  debilitating pain.  You submitted willingly to Our Father's Will be done.  For us.

It is difficult to read or watch visuals of what was done to you.   You did it all for us.   All of us.  It's also very difficult to watch the people you died to give salvation to,  turn their backs on you and worse, reject your deity and teachings.

You, as the Word, beautifully show us the Way, the Truth and the Life.   You show us that through You, we know Our Father in Heaven.   And now we are repeating your words, "Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do."

You taught us about love and there is hate all around us.  You taught us about love of families and families have splintered.   You taught us about marriage between a man and a woman, and marriage has morphed into what the world wants, not what you taught us.   You taught us that marriage is important for procreation, but the world wants to abort babies, not create them. 

You gave us a new covenant but the world chooses greed, power, and  narcissism over sharing, humbleness and stewardship.    You taught us peace, church community sharing and honesty; instead we have violence, bullying and untruths. You promised us abundance if we follow your path, and instead the world has forged its own path of idolatry, selfishness, and ungodliness.  And it's falling apart.

The Word tells us to praise and glorify God and the world tells us it's superstitious, ignorant, and discriminatory to listen to your Words.   We are called extremists and radicals and they call themselves progressives and socialists.    We want to stay faithful to you and they want us to denounce or hide that faith.

There are many of us who believe in who you are and what you taught through Our Father.   And we also understand what you taught and how it will end.   Thank you for the gift of spirit that endures our faith. We're sorry if the path leading to you is narrow and the path that leads away from you is wide.   But it is their choice and we were given free will to choose which one we will take. In the long run their choices are not long-lasting, and become unsatisfactory and unhappy.  And empty.

 "Eye  has not seen nor ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love him." Thank you, Jesus, for making it possible.   On  Easter Sunday, we rejoiced  with you.  We love and thank you.  

Marie Coppola   Revised April 2019