For the past 25 years, I’ve had an “on again/off again” love affair with going to the gym and working out.  I’ll go strong for a long period, have a life event happen that disrupts  the schedule, and then go for an equally long period of eating donuts.

All that being said, after a two year break from the gym, a particularly sedentary winter and achieving “angry pants” status (that’s when your pants are so tight they’re angry at you for wearing them), I opted to renew my gym membership and get back to the grind.

The morning of my return, there was a little bit of trepidation on my part.  I had been a regular 5am guy before my break and had a great rapport with the other 5am people.  We didn’t spend a lot of time chatting, but we all had a friendly word and a mutual respect for each other for getting up and getting to it that early.

Questions raced through my mind on my way in.  Who would the crowd be now?  Would it be old guys like me or young kids flexing in the mirror (a personal irritant of mine)?   Would there be the same rapport and respect as when I was there prior?

As I broke the threshold of the door way and made my way to sign in,  my eyes darted around to see how many of my questions would be answered and then, I saw Bob.  Bob was part of the old crew and had not, like me, taken two years off.  Although we knew each other casually, I didn’t know he would recognize me until our eyes met.  He then walked straight over, smiled and said “You finally decided to come back, eh?”  We laughed and all things were back to where they had been before (except for my waist size).

With 22 years of Naval Service and 15 transfers to new duty stations under my belt, you would think I would be used to being the new guy.  Even with that experience, there is always a little bit of wonder and trepidation when joining a new group.  What has always made the difference is someone (like Bob) who made me feel welcome.

We’ve all been the “new guy” (not gender specific) and I don’t think I’m unique in how I feel or view going into a new situation.  I think I’m pretty normal (that’s used loosely and I don’t think my kids would agree).  If we’ve all been there, then we should do our part to help others when they’re the “newbie” to help them acclimate, feel welcome, and a part of the team.

In nearly 30 years of working and leading, here are some simple things you, as a leader, can do to help make new hires feel welcome:

1.  Greet them with a smile and welcome them personally.
2.  Assign them a “Bob” – someone to be their one person welcoming committee and show them around.
3.  Acknowledge them at a team meeting and give them an opportunity to introduce themselves (ask them first if they mind – some are shy).
4.  Check in with them periodically to see how they are doing and answer any question they may have.

I didn’t need all that at the gym; all I needed was Bob.  I’m back in the swing, my pants are less angry, and soon I’ll be back to my fighting weight.  We’ve all been new, do what you can to help others ease into the routine.  If you can’t do anything else, just be a Bob.

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