Office newbies – a help or a hindrance?

So one of the things I touch on in Coping with the Horroffice is the different types of work colleagues you’re likely to encounter during your working life.

office junior photocopyingThe office newbie or office junior is one of them.  And they need to be handled with care.  If the office newbie is also the office junior then use extra care!


Firstly, it’s all about first impressions.  Whilst you’re busy sighing heavily and exaggeratedly because they forgot to photocopy the other side of a double-sided document (this happened to me when a newbie was helping me pull together twenty sets of accounts that needed to be ready for the courier within the hour – it was not pleasant), they’re also judging you.  Not intentionally, but it’s something we all do.  We make a judgement based on our first impressions of people all the time.  We might alter it later, but that takes time and effort.  So think about the impression you’re making on that impressionable young colleague standing in front of you (probably feeling very silly for making the mistake in the first place).  When I found the mistake from my newbie, I laughed it off, telling them I’d done much worse when I was a newbie.  It helped relieve the tension.

Secondly, you want to build up their self-esteem, their judgement of their own abilities.  Yes, if they make mistakes (as we all do when we’re learning) you need to show them how they can improve.  But simply criticising every little thing they do might not be the best way.  Maybe try giving them a ‘feedback sandwich’ – this is where you sandwich the training (please check you’ve photocopied both sides of the document next time) in between two positive traits or outcomes (Thanks for volunteering to do this with me, I really appreciate it.  You handled that client really well.)

Thirdly, remember that the people you meet when they’re on their way up might also be people you meet when they’ve a few rungs higher than you – and you don’t want to burn any bridges unnecessarily!

I hope that helps next time you’re in charge of the newbie.

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