New Legal Support Staff? How to Help Them Thrive in the Role

Imagine this. You hire an awesome new legal support employee. They are highly qualified, come with great recommendations and look like a great fit for your organization. They accept your offer with enthusiasm and seem to be off to a great start.

Then, six months later, they hand in their notice.

What went wrong? Chances are, the fault lies in your onboarding process. How can you make sure it doesn’t happen again? Put a system in place to effectively ramp up every new employee.

Assign a mentor. New employees have a lot of questions, but may be afraid to ask them. First, because they don’t know who to ask, and second, because they don’t want to appear foolish. A mentor provides a clearinghouse for all types of questions. If they don’t have the answers, they can take the query to the right person. Also, once the new employee has developed a level of comfort with the mentor, they will feel that they can ask anything.

Choose the right mentor. Not everyone is cut out to be a mentor. It’s about more than being a good employee. They have to be comfortable taking a new person under their wing and be a patient teacher. Choose someone who knows the new employee’s job well and also knows the ins and outs of the organizational culture.

Consider job shadowing. There are two ways to approach this. The new employee can be imbedded with a person currently performing the job and tasked with training them. They can also shadow various employees throughout the firm to get a sense of what each person does and how they work together. It can serve as a long introduction which is better than just a quick handshake and exchange of names.

Don’t go on autopilot. Once you have a training and mentoring process set up, that doesn’t mean you can just step back. Check in regularly over the first six months to a year on the job. Are their questions being answered? Is the job what they expected or does it differ from what they were told? If you keep an open dialogue from day one, they will feel comfortable sharing with you if things are not going well, so that you can address them promptly.

This may seem like a lot of work for support staff, but replacing people is expensive and time-consuming so it’s in your best interest to keep good people on board.

At Kent Legal, our recruiters can help you hire the legal support staff and share strategies to ensure that you retain them. Contact us to learn more about our legal support recruiting services in Toronto!

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