A new employee is a stranger in a strange land. Like the undercover royals on TLC’s hit show “Secret Princes,” new hires have to adjust to new expectations, new relationships and a new culture in order to succeed. It’s not always easy, but a supportive HR program can help ease the transition. Here’s what your company’s HR program can learn from the struggles of TLC's secret princes, and what you can do to help your new hires adapt and prosper.
“Secret Princes” follows four royals who leave their lavish palaces behind and fly to Atlanta, Georgia in the hopes of finding love. Once there, the princes are shocked by their less-than-luxurious accommodations. Prince Salauddin Babi of India quickly lays claim to what is clearly a shared bathroom, and a power struggle ensues. The princes also take great efforts to assert their titles as they jostle for position at the top of the royal totem pole.
To those of us who lack a royal guard or a family crest, these scenes seem petty and ridiculous. But it's not so different from what happens each time a company's employee selection process introduces a new team member to the office. New employees want to know where they stand, what role they’ll play and ultimately how much power they’ll wield among their coworkers. This curiosity is natural. Rather than denying it, an HR program can help new hires by introducing them to their colleagues and their superiors. Defining exactly what every team member does – including who they supervise and who they report to – can help new employees better understand the workplace dynamic, as well as how they'll fit into it.
When asked about his experience on the show, Prince Salauddin Babi of India told ABC News, “I have close to 50 servants here in the Garden Palace. I need anything, there's always a staffer, so I would get up in the morning, back home, I get my glass of milk first thing, or tea. Here, that doesn't come. You have to fend for yourself.”
Unless your company is in the practice of recruiting aristocrats, you're not going to have to worry about the tea service. But you will need to form a support system for each new employee.
We all create support systems in our workplaces. Our supporters give us feedback on our work, help us prepare for big meetings or even help us make hiring decisions. The bottom line is that a working support system is good for business, and every HR program should strive to provide new hires with this necessary resource. New employees should have a network of people to turn to, especially when it comes to difficult situations like workplace conflicts or even harassment and abuse. When employees have the feeling that they can rely on a team of people who care about their well-being, they’ll be much happier and more productive.
As the undercover princes mingle with the women of Atlanta in the hopes of finding their future princesses, it becomes clear that the charming Lord Robert Walters of England and the dapper Prince Francisco Joaquin de Borbon von Hardenberg of Spain have little trouble meeting and mesmerizing the ladies. Prince Salauddin, however, doesn’t exactly hit the ground running.
After a heart-to-heart with Lord Robert, Salauddin realizes why: it’s because these men are in their element, while he’s far removed from his. For someone from a culture where even public hand holding is a no-no, a booze-soaked nightclub is probably not the best place to go looking for “the one.” So Salauddin decides to enlist the help of a professional matchmaker. It accomplishes the same goal, but in a way that works for him.
Your company isn't recruiting royals from the other side of the world, true, but every worker you hire comes from a unique business culture. The more you learn about your new employee's background, the easier it will be for you to help her set and reach her goals. A new hire might need to do things in a slightly different way than the rest of your employees, at least for a little while. And most of the time, that should be okay.
In a perfect world, all princes would be charming. They’d slay dragons, and their shiny, gorgeous hair would have otherworldly volume. But as you watch the secret princes struggle to adapt to life in Atlanta, to try in vain to impress the ladies with their disturbing dance moves and to do their best to hold down their minimum-wage jobs, one thing becomes clear: princes are human, just like the rest of us. They've got their strengths and their challenges, and the same goes for your employees. So make sure your HR program treats each new hire like the unique person he is. Listen to him and support him, and who knows? One day he might just rule the kingdom.