So we welcomed a new addition to our family this past month. No, it’s not what you think. We are the proud parents of a three-month-old, four-pound baby fluff ball Pomeranian puppy named Desmond. After years of begging from my two boys and my wife, I finally relented, and I have to say he is really cute. I haven’t had a puppy in the house since I was in grade school and over the past few weeks I’m beginning to realize one thing…new puppies are a hell of a lot of WORK!

Before we brought him home we had a really great plan on how to potty train him, where he would sleep, how we would behave and all sorts of grand ideas about bringing him into the family. Well as I’m sure you can guess Desmond seems to have a mind of his own and his plan is completely different from ours. Just when we think he has something figured out the way we want him to, he goes off and tears into a new pair of shoes. Last week he was going outside to do his business, this week he has found a corner in the living room that seems to suit his needs much better. The minute we take our eyes off him, he’s off doing something he shouldn’t be doing. I have to tell you I’m exhausted!!

While my guess is you’re entertained with our new puppy exploits, you’re probably wondering how any of this is relevant to you and your business.

Well, I’m sure you’re aware the economy is beginning to pick up some momentum. In fact over the past 12-18 months many of the organizations I work with have slowly begun to hire new team members and fill badly needed positions to meet the growing demands of the business. Many of you are about to add new people to your teams and I’m sure you’re as excited about that as my family was about our new addition. Once that excitement wanes, however, you’ll be reminded, as I have been, that adding a new employee is a tremendous responsibility and a ton of work.

Think about all the ways your new team member will need to get acclimated to their new role, not to mention the particular nuances of your business and your team. How will they get along with the rest of the team? How will they know what to do? It’s easy to assume that your new hire will “just know” what to do and where to go because they don’t stop and ask for help. Mistakes are made by concluding, “they must know” because they didn’t ask. Consider instead whether you’ve made it clear to them that it’s ok to ask; that it’s good to ask; that you expect them to ask rather than wonder, assume, or guess.

Do you remember what it’s like to be the new person? How willing were you to step up and say, “I don’t understand.” Also, just because they get something right, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to validate and reinforce their understanding to make sure it sticks. You know from experience that the minute you take your eye off them, they may make a mess all over your workplace, or worse get lost or run away out of frustration.

Yes my friends, if you’re getting ready to make some additions to your teams in the coming months remember it’s a lot like getting that new puppy. Even if you have a well thought out plan remember, everyone is unique, and their plan may be a bit different from your plan. The good news is that if you put in the effort early on, stay after them to create the right habits from day one (without micro-managing), and treat them with dignity and respect, well then they will pay you back 10 times the amount with a lifetime of loyalty, productivity, and happiness!

This week ask yourself:

How am I preparing for my new addition to the workplace?

What training have I set up to help them succeed?

How much of my own time have I set aside to invest in this new team member?

What are my plans to let them know that it’s ok to ask for help; that it’s good to ask for help?