It’s the start of fall, and we all know what that means: new TV!
I’ve been most looking forward to the return of FOX’s Fringe, a fantastic sci-fi series from J. J. Abrams that just premiered its fourth season. The show follows the members of a secret division of the FBI that investigates cases of fringe science and other weirdness, including parallel universes. FBI agent Olivia Dunham, mad scientist Walter Bishop, and his son Peter are the main players here; but at the end of last season, Peter vanished from existence (it’s a long story), and now no one remembers him. Enter Lincoln Lee, another FBI agent who, by the second episode, becomes the newest member of the Fringe team.
Lincoln joins the team because his partner is killed in a fringe-science-related crime, and he wants to be part of the investigation. It’s not the way most people start a new job (except if they’re TV characters, of course), but the first episode of the season sheds some light onto how a company should welcome a new employee—and how a new employee should adapt to the workplace.
Here’s a rundown of how Lincoln and the Fringe team handled new employee orientation:
What New Employees Should Do
- Show initiative, be proactive, but don’t overstep your boundaries. This will depend on the company, but in most cases, wait until you’ve settled in at your new job before suggesting any significant changes to the way things are done.
How did Fringe do? When his partner is killed and Fringe Division arrives on the scene, Lincoln wants to be part of the investigation but is denied. His response is to track Olivia’s license plate and sneak into the Fringe lab, but as one might expect, this doesn’t go over so well. Later, Lincoln argues with Olivia about some of the Division’s policies, declaring them immoral. Luckily, his initiative leads to him joining the Fringe team (this is a TV show, after all), but he took risks that could have easily cost him his FBI job, not to mention damage his new relationship with Fringe Division.
Learn about the corporate culture and the people you’ll be working with. Getting a feel for your new environment will help you fit in, as well as find people you can rely on for questions, advice, and support.
How did Fringe do? Because Lincoln sneaks into Fringe Division, his introduction to the company culture is a bit rocky. But after enduring a few awkward situations, such as finding Walter hiding in a water tank, Lincoln observes more of the team dynamic and becomes comfortable enough to ask questions and get to know everyone.
- Do your job well, be friendly, and stay open-minded. Through your actions, let your boss know he or she made the right decision in hiring you.
How did Fringe do? Lincoln had a few rough patches to start, but by helping solve his first case with the team—and by keeping an open mind about transparent-skinned killers and parallel worlds—he has started to earn their trust and shown them how valuable he can be.
What Employers Should Do
- Make your new employee feel comfortable and appreciated. Introduce him to his coworkers and to the company culture, include him in office chatter, and let him know whom he can approach with questions.
How did Fringe do? Angered by Lincoln’s meddling in the investigation, Olivia doesn’t introduce him to the others or give him any details on the case. However, as Olivia begins to trust Lincoln, she answers his questions: explaining Walter’s mad-scientist ways, opening up about losing her own partner to a strange death … and showing Lincoln the bridge between parallel universes.
Spend time training your new employee. A smooth transition will be easier both for you and your new hire.
How did Fringe do? The team sends Lincoln into the field with almost no information about the investigation, and then later doesn’t prepare him at all for meeting Olivia’s doppelganger at the bridge to the other world. Fortunately, Lincoln is quick enough on his feet to take all these surprises in stride, but Fringe Division should have better guided him.
- Recognize your new employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Praise him when he does well, and offer him help and constructive criticism when he’s struggling.
How did Fringe do? Lincoln demonstrates his investigative skills by piecing together clues and helping solve the case. In return, Olivia heightens his security clearance so that she can answer more of his questions about Fringe Division and take him to the other universe. Though she (rightfully) yells at him at first for sneaking into headquarters,Lincoln ultimately proves himself to be good at what he does, and Olivia recognizes his strengths accordingly.
Do you watch Fringe? If so, how do you think Lincoln handled his “orientation”? What are some other tips for new employees and for the companies who have hired them?