Definition of Buddy System
When you think of a “buddy,” you most likely think of someone you can trust and count on in good times and when challenges hit. Buddy systems are valuable processes to implement in a work setting, too.
A buddy system is a process designed wherein:
- A more experienced employee is assigned to a newly hired employee to help acclimate them to the workplace. The “buddy” employee teaches the new hire the ropes.
- Professionals are paired when working in compromising situations to ensure each others’ safety.
Implementing buddy systems creates a more welcoming environment for new hires. Also, it boosts the senior buddy’s morale because they are entrusted with imparting important information. Most people appreciate having someone they can go to when they have questions about various processes, contacts, or even office politics.
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Why would a buddy system be valuable to your business?
When you bring someone new into your company or someone transfers to a different area within your company, there is always an adjustment period. At a minimum, it takes approximately 90 days for an employee new to their function to find their sea legs, as it were.
PARTNERING NEW PEOPLE WITH SOMEONE THEY CAN CONSIDER THEIR PERSONAL GO-TO FOR GETTING ANSWERS TAKES A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF UNCERTAINTY OUT OF THE NEW JOB TRANSITION PROCESS.
Generally, it takes 1-2 years for employees to become thoroughly acclimated and productive in their function and work environment. Buddy systems help shorten this timeline because employees don’t have to flounder to determine:
- Where they get information
- How they accumulate data
- Who they need to go to for specific issues
Partnering new people with someone they can consider their personal go-to for getting answers takes a significant amount of uncertainty out of the new job transition process.
How to implement a buddy system
As with most processes in your business, a buddy system should be created and enacted with planning and intentionality. Things you will want to consider when developing this system include:
- Thoroughly define your complete onboarding process. Onboarding is not only employees completing their new hire paperwork and completing required compliance training. It also involves helping employees become familiar with the company. Assigning a buddy is a valuable onboarding tool you can add to your arsenal.
- Define what is expected of both roles — the new employee and the buddy. It’s bad enough when your new employee is floundering. Without clarifying expectations of what the buddy needs to do, you’ll end up with 2 employees feeling like a proverbial fish out of water instead of 1. The buddy should plan on providing a safe place where the new employee can come to ask questions when they have them. They will basically be an informal teacher or tutor. They will introduce the new employee to processes, people, places, and the ins and outs of the company.
- Make a list of potential buddy candidates. You want buddies to be individual contributors (not team leaders or managers), approachable and open, secure in their knowledge of the company and their function, and excellent communicators.
- Talk to potential buddies to ensure they’re interested in taking on new responsibilities. You want to ensure that the people you assign as buddies are open to taking on the assignment. It would be counterproductive to ask someone to buddy up with a new employee only to find that they are resistant to the task.
Successfully assigning a buddy to a new (or newly transferred) employee takes a lot of guesswork out of the transition process.
Additional resources you will find helpful
- How to build a new employee onboarding process from scratch
- Onboarding best practices that benefit new hires and your business
- Rethinking onboarding from a PeopleOps perspective
- 7 best practices in creating your onboarding plan
- How to create a mentorship program and why you should
Assigning buddies takes the pressure off your business
When you create a robust buddy system, you set all of your employees up for success. You remove barriers from new employees and help seasoned staff develop new skill sets.