A month ago, we signed a new apartment lease. As part of the paperwork, we had to indicate the names we wanted on our mailbox. Today a man appeared at my door with the mailbox nameplate—and a bill for nearly $50.
Now, I admit the engraved nameplate is nice, but for $50 I'd rather just keep the handwritten sign that was there before. I brought this up with some friends, and the consensus was that this was absolutely normal in Switzerland and everybody knows that they'll get charged that much.
Only, I'm an American who expects that kind of fee to be disclosed in the paperwork, so I certainly didn't expect it. The rental agent didn't tell me. The relocation woman didn't tell me. None of my friends told me, until it was too late to say "no thanks." They all assumed that because it was standard here it was standard everywhere. Or, rather, they didn't think about it. The same way you don't have to think about what a red light at an intersection means. You just know.
So, what does this have to do with careers? Let's talk about the "on-boarding" process. When you make an external hire, you should think: "This person has never 'lived' in our business before. She doesn't know what is standard."
Often, companies forget about all the little things. Like, if you don't get your expenses submitted within 10 days of incurring them, you have to get VP approval for reimbursement. Or, the dress code is business casual, but, if you are presenting in a meeting, you had better be wearing a suit.
These are little things (and some can vary from department to department), but they can result in huge headaches, hassles, and general embarrassment when they aren't explained. You can't just assume that all companies operate the way yours does. You actually have to make an effort to share these things with your new people. Your company's culture, processes, and procedures are different than those of any other company. You've just spent a lot of time and money recruiting that new person. You want her to succeed. So, be helpful and tell her what to expect.
It will make life easier for everyone.
Suzanne Lucas has nine years of human resources experience, most of which have been in a Fortune 500-company setting. She holds a Professional in Human Resources Certificate from the Society for Human Resource Management. She blogs at Evil HR Lady.