Instructions for Department Administrator or Ambassadors

The following four key points will help departments and divisions get your newest hires on track, up to speed and "on board" so they can start contributing to your success as soon as possible. If you are new and unsure of the Ambassador's responsibilities, go to Role of the Ambassador.

1 - Understand Your KUMC TIMELINES

When you compose your first faculty "offer letter" begin by discussing the process with Jo Halverson in the Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development office. Guidelines followed from the beginning will prevent this process from lengthy delays or the need to for you to rewrite the letter numerous times. You should completely understand:

  1. The format and content requirements you must follow to compose an offer letter;
  2. the steps an offer letter must go through before it is mailed;
  3. the committees involved and what purpose they serve in the development of your offer letter;
  4. all the internal departments and various individuals involved with the approval of each offer letter;
  5. the timeline between each step; and
  6. the delay in the process and legal ramifications if the correct steps are not followed.

2 - Make It Simple and Interesting

Include in their offer letter (or your instructions immediately upon receipt of a signed offer letter) the link to the School of Medicine's Faculty Onboarding web site as a recruiting tool which will help your new hire know exactly what to expect of our process and you do not expect them to figure things out "the hard way."

If your department has established a department-based Faculty Mentoring Program provide the link to your new hire. (Links to each are available on the School of Medicine Department Based, Center or Organization Mentoring Programs web page.)

3 - Prevent "Nobody Told Me"

Every workplace comes with its own set of guidelines, rules and regulations, benefits, programs for faculty members, nuances and traditions. Your new hire will learn these things the hard way if you a) are short of time or forgot about something critical to their ability to perform their duties, or b) are new and unaware of all they need to be told. Do not assume residents who trained here know the details of their new faculty membership responsibilities. Do not be the reason your new hire begins to say "nobody told me."

4 - Make New Employee Orientation Personal

Day one should not be only about paperwork. Instead, prioritize interpersonal relationships with introductions to key colleagues to give them an immediate feel for the personality of your department and our academic community. This day of first impressions will have an enormous impact on the new hire experience. Schedule a lunch with some of their new colleagues to help make it a great day. Consider inviting the new hire's family or spouse to join them for lunch so they may be introduced too.

New hire anxieties are fueled by mistakes that companies often make during that first-day new employee orientation program. These common mistakes include:

  • overwhelming the new hire with facts, figures, names and faces packed into one eight-hour day;
  • showing boring orientation videos;
  • providing lengthy front-of-the-room lectures; and
  • failing to prepare for the new hire can cause the management within a department the loss of the new hire's respect from day one.

Dr. John Sullivan, head of the Human Resource Management Program at San Francisco State University, concludes that several elements contribute to a world class new employee orientation program. The best new employee orientation:

  • has targeted goals and meets them,
  • makes the first day a celebration,
  • involves family as well as coworkers,
  • makes new hires productive on the first day,
  • is not boring, rushed or ineffective, and
  • uses feedback to continuously improve.

With a good new employee orientation which begins before they arrive, new faculty can even be productive on their first day of work.

Don't Be the Problem

These are the top eight ways to guarantee your new faculty member will start off on the wrong foot - possibly forever.

  • Procrastinate or forget to respond to the new hire by not providing them with information or answers to their questions before they arrive because your schedule is so full.
  • Make sure a work area has not been created or assigned. (Let him/her use the conference room until their office is ready.)
  • Schedule the new employee to start work while his/her chair/division director or department administrator is on vacation. One or more of these individuals should be present when the new hire begins.
  • Leave the new employee standing in the company reception area for a half hour while someone tries to figure out where their On-Boarding Ambassador or the chair may be.
  • Leave the new hire at her work station, to manage on his/her own for lunch. Instead, schedule faculty colleagues to join them for lunch during the first week.
  • Show the new employee his/her office and don't introduce hm/her to coworkers or assign a mentor.
  • Assign the new hire to a administrative assistant who has a major, career-impacting deadline for another faculty member in three days.
  • Start the new employee with a one or two day new faculty orientation during which you make presentation after presentation after presentation.


Adapted from the article by Brian Platz, for, "Faculty Onboarding: One Chance for a Positive Experience"

Last modified: Nov 27, 2013