Just like our first day of school, the first day of work is equally as stressful, exciting and nerve racking. Is what I’m wearing the right thing? Can I have my cell phone with me? I hope the parking spot I took isn’t unofficially owned by someone. I am so bad with names and today I will meet a dozen different people.
On your first day you are alone, you have not yet made any friends, you don’t know the culture, you have a dozen acronyms thrown at you and you don’t know where the restroom or water cooler are located. It is almost as if you are lost in some foreign country unable to read a map or speak the language.
First impressions are what they are. It isn’t just about our first impression of the new hire but more importantly their first impression of our organization. We must make sure their introduction to the company, department and team is the best it can be. I believe that doing that will also help them to ramp up more quickly and “fit it” more easily.
A personal hand written note welcoming them to the company or team goes a long way. In the digital age we are entrenched in, personal notes have become even more powerful as they are least expected. The note needs to be personalized and focused on your organizations values. It also demonstrates that you were thinking about or eagerly anticipating their arrival before they arrived.
There needs to be a strong orientation program. I’m sure they receive one from HR that covers the entire company in 4 hours… what about when they reach your department or team? Here again I like to take my team, including the new hire, out for lunch to start the bonding process. I also conduct a mini orientation that includes my expectations, the team dynamics as well as site specific information they need to know.
Systems and tools access should be provided prior to their arrival. They should have a cubicle with everything they need. Far too often I see people start a new job and they don’t have the computer or network access ready. They have no assigned seat or office supplies. This demonstrates you weren’t prepared for their arrival or their arrival is unimportant. Hopefully this is the only time you demonstrate a lack of preparedness.
Get your team excited for their arrival. Let the team know a new person is joining and when. Give a high level overview of their background and convey excitement that they are coming. If you can get the team excited about it and set some expectations on what you expect from them, they will rise up and make the person feel welcomed. Often your current staff could feel threatened by a new arrival. Explain why you hired them and how you feel they will complement the team.
If you have a formal training program, great use it. If not, spend some time developing a matrix with timelines on what activities you will have them do on each day. This could include involving other people who may be experts at those tasks. Meet with the expert to ensure they understand what you want them to show the new hire. At the start of each day meet with the new hire and review the plan for that day. At the end of each day review what they covered and respond to any questions they may have.
If at all possible, don’t overwhelm them. Having to meet so many people and learn new systems, policies and processes will take a little time. It isn’t always possible for them to jump right in.
Starting your new hire off on the right path will help to ensure an easy transition into their job and your team. This will also increase your chances that they will stay with the company for a long time to come.
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