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Organizational Culture: Integrating New Employees Into a New Environment

Employees shaking hands with each other

Management Topic: Organizational Culture: Integrating New Employees into a New Environment

Dear Colleagues,

When starting a new job, it is crucial to understand the organizational culture. Simply put, helping new employees figure out “how things are done” goes a long way toward successful integration into the organization, especially in a large, diverse, and complex work environment like ours. Examples include how other employees structure their day, what tools they use, and common forms of communication and interaction (text, Zoom, email, chat). These factors set the tone for decision-making, conflict resolution, and teamwork.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) stresses the importance of four key aspects of onboarding: compliance, clarification, culture, and connections. Following these guidelines from the beginning will help new employees get started on the right foot and become productive.

  • Compliance involves learning the organization's policies and guidelines quickly. Help employees understand organizational norms and processes at the onset to minimize unnecessary missteps and stress. Additionally, share important resources that they can use to navigate the learning curve when starting a new position.
  • Clarification means understanding your role within the organization. Role clarification allows for clear expectations, identifies priorities, and establishes alignment in the working environment. This necessary alignment contributes to the successful achievement of the organization’s strategic goals and initiatives. Strategic objectives are identified regularly to help departments establish goals that align with the university’s mission and values. Providing those goals to a new employee will help them understand the department’s purpose and role.  
  • Culture is about understanding the values and norms of the organization. This can apply to things as simple as what do people wear? What hours do they keep?  What training is available? Integrating your new employees into your department’s culture will go a long way in making them feel comfortable in their new environment. UCLA resources to share include:
  • Connections refer to building strong relationships with coworkers to support your work and share experiences. Consider assigning a mentor or “buddy” to a new employee so they have someone who can assist them with questions. Help them find networking opportunities to meet others within your department. Consider assigning a variety of projects early on that allow them to interact with a broad range of coworkers. Communication is another important component within Connections. When joining a new organization, discuss with the new employee their preferred communication style, preferred forms of feedback and recognition, as well as their working style. All are elements that draw upon successful connections while integrating into a new organization.

Managers and supervisors should coordinate regular check-ins during onboarding to provide feedback and establish clear performance expectations from the start. During these check-ins, you should also ask about your team member’s onboarding experience and if anything is impacting their ability to be successful in the role.

It is essential to consider all these elements when joining a new organization. Remember that this transition is both an external change and an internal shift for the new employee, requiring a positive outlook, fresh perspective, and renewed sense of professional development. Help them embrace the change through your acquired knowledge and background, and remain receptive, flexible, and patient as they adapt to their new work environment. Joining a new organization can be an exciting experience, both personally and professionally, so give them the tools to take control of the transition and enjoy the journey.

References and Further Reading:

Leadership 2029

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