Auto Service World
Feature   October 1, 2000   by Auto Service World

University of the Aftermarket: Welcome Aboard! Now What?

Once you've hired a new employee it's time to put him right to work. Or is it?


You’ve just hired your best prospect and now it’s time to toss him into the deep end behind the counter, right? Well, not if you don’t want headaches later. It’s always wise to make sure that the new hire, even the experienced one, is fully and properly welcomed to the company.

It is important for the manager to accept the fact that when a new employee starts work, the first day is likely to be almost totally unproductive. This does not mean it is wasted time. Making sure all the administrative tasks and initial orientation are taken care of when the employee starts will prevent problems and misunderstandings later.

One of the first tasks after an employee has accepted a position is to ensure that you’ve got all the appropriate paperwork filled out. Give the new employee the necessary forms and paper that need to be completed and lead him to a lunchroom or coffee break area so that he can fill them out without interruption. While he’s doing that, you can monitor the store.

Considering the number of forms that need to be filled out, even experienced people may need some time and some help. Paperwork can include tax forms, payroll deduction forms, direct deposit authorization, insurance forms, and any pension forms. They may not all be applicable for your situation, but you should also take time to familiarize yourself with them if it’s been a while since you hired someone. Don’t forget to remind the new hire to bring items like a voided cheque for direct deposit authorization, a health card, birth certificate, vehicle insurance, or whatever might be called for by the various agencies that you must submit information to. It’s best to be able to get it out of the way in one shot rather than in fits and starts. Perhaps you would find it helpful to make a formal, printed list of the forms that will need to be filled out and the information the new hire will have to bring. Then you can give this to the person before his first day on the job.

While it might be a bit late to start thinking about what the new employee might be doing in addition to his core duties, items like vehicle insurance and drivers license still need to be addressed properly. It is quite possible that an individual’s status may have changed in the period between his application and your decision to hire him. Make sure the personal information you have for him is up to date.

Your presence, or that of your personnel manager, may be required from time to time to help in the filling out of these forms so don’t hesitate to offer help.

Once the forms are filled out, it is likely that the new employee will want a chance to stretch his legs, so it’s a prime opportunity to take a tour of the store. Show him where stock is kept, where hazardous or flammable materials are kept, cores are stored, deliveries are staged, and how the front counter and showroom are arranged. This is also a perfect opportunity to talk about your policies and procedures. Don’t be too casual in your language. This can send mixed signals. “We like to keep our cores over here” does not give the same message as “Returned cores are kept here.” The most important element of the tour is that it supports your written policies and procedures with visual references. In time, these will be further enforced by doing the tasks that relate to them.

This is also the time when the new employee will meet the other employees, in particular the “buddy” who will be the new hire’s key resource while he’s learning the job. This person is selected ahead of time and should be briefed on the importance of his role.

During the tour of the facilities, stress the importance of getting off to a good start on the new job. Since you probably have a 90-day probationary period, make sure the new employee understands that you will be having regular two-way discussions during this period to cover performance issues and any questions and concerns.

If the person is coming on board as a counterperson, you want to run through your procedures there and brief him on the computer system and cash drawers. Go over your phone system’s functions and your procedures for dealing with customer calls too. It is important to do these things as a matter of course–even for the experienced counterperson–since systems can differ from store to store.

After the tour, you’ll want to run through the important sections of the employee handbook. If you don’t have one, you should prepare one. It can serve as a valuable tool for an employee who has more questions than you have time.

After having the most important paperwork completed, the employee should be put to work so that he can start to acclimatize to the new environment. This will also prompt more questions, which is something that should be encouraged.

The orientation process should not be expected to be complete the first day, or even the first week. A successful orientation will likely take a year. The first week should focus on the most critical parts of a job, like the safe operation of any equipment and first aid procedures in the case of an accident. Training in safe work procedures is critical and may be legally required of you as a business.

There are a number of areas that the new employee will require training in. Some will revolve around store operation; others will be more technical in nature. Create a training schedule if you don’t already have one and stick to it. (This is actually a good point for everyone.) There are a great many training resources available, but there should be at least some formalized process for using them; otherwise they may fall by the wayside in the hectic day-to-day business world. A checklist of training is a good idea, but you should always be open to suggestions.

While not every store’s experience can be the same, a proper process of orientation is important to the long-term success of a new hire. It also provides an important opportunity for a manager to instill a sense of the business’s culture in the new employee, what you believe is important, how you value employees, and how they can help the business reach its goals. Executed well, the process leads to an employee who sees how he can grow within the business and feels like an important part of the team.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Are you interested in learning more about Human Resource Management? The University of the Aftermarket’s Orientation of the New Team Member self-study video course can help. In addition to the above this program addresses other issues related to the employee orientation such as:

Making plans to greet the new team member;

reviewing the Team Member Handbook;

how to conduct a store tour.

THE COURSE ALSO CONTAINS A FULL SET OF CHECKLISTS FOR:

Team member orientation;

store manager checklist;

team member information;

employment history;

job performance evaluation.

What are the next steps you need to take to explore the topics contained in this self-study program? You can register on the University of the Aftermarket’s web page at www.univaftmkt.org or you may fax your order to the University (816-523-8252) or call the University registrar at 1-800-621-UNIV. The University accepts MasterCard, VISA, Discover, and American Express.

The “Orientation of the New Team Member” course is just one in a series of self-study courses from the University of the Aftermarket covering a variety of subjects to help jobbers run a more effective, efficient business. In addition to video self-study courses, there are other educational resources available. Information is available from the university.


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